Department of Agriculture eyes support price for copra
Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - December 26, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture aims to set a government support price for copra amid the continued decline of the commodity’s mill gate prices.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the support price was one of the three measures submitted for approval by  President Duterte to address the drop in prices of copra.

“The government, through its government-owned coconut mills, should set a support price for copra between P26 and P30 per kilogram to stabilize the price,” he said

Latest data showed that mill gate price of copra now range from P18 to P21 per kilo, still much lower than last year’s  P44 to P50 per kilo.

A few months ago, even before the Philippine Coconut Authority was reverted back to the DA, prices had dropped to as low as P12 per kilo in some areas.

The continued drop in copra prices had already affected about  four million farmers nationwide owing to competition in the global market.

However, Piñol said the Philippines has failed to ride on the worldwide demand for high value coconut products because the government has been focusing on copra production alone.

“The reason why our coconut farmers have not explored or ventured into this field is because there was no assistance and guidance from government on how to do it,” he said.

Starting next year, the DA and PCA will start the establishment of village-level processing facilities to ensure that farmers will no longer rely on middlemen.

Apart from the support price, the DA continues to review the increasing importation of palm oil and other oil products which effectively displaced coconut production.

“Over the last three years, the importation of palm oil has increased by 900 percent and under WTO (World Trade Organization) rules, we can  invoke our trade remedies which include  setting the quantitative restrictions or imposing tariffs,” Piñol said.

Another recommendation is to  increase the coco methyl ester (CME) content in the biodiesel program in the country.

“If that is implemented, about 200,000 metric tons of copra would be taken off from warehouses and create greater demand for copra and increase the price,” he said.

Data showed that there are 3.6 million hectares of land planted with  338.7 million fruit-bearing coconut trees nationwide. This accounts for 26 percent of the total agricultural land in the country.

Of the 81 provinces, 68 are considered coconut producing areas.

In terms of yield, the Philippines produces 4,000 nuts per hectare annually, significantly much lower than other coconut-producing countries that make about 10,000 nuts per hectare yearly.

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