SANTA BARBARA, Pangasinan—Asin, or salt, does not only give flavor to dishes, it also enriches a coconut tree.
The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) provincial office here endorses the use of rock salt, abundant in Pangasinan, as fertilizer to fruit-bearing coconut trees. PCA Officer in Charge Provincial Manager Loreta de la Cruz said rock salt, as fertilizer, improves the quality of the fruit by thickening the coconut meat by 25 percent. The salt is applied around the coconut tree, about 1-meter diameter, during the onset of rainy season. The salt fertilizer may be dug in or be put on the soil. De la Cruz said despite the fact that Pangasinan is a “land of salt,” only a few farmers in Bolinao, Dasol, Alaminos City and San Carlos City are making use of salt as fertilizer.
“They aren’t aware yet about this method,” she added.
She also said farmers are not following the appropriate distance between coconut trees in planting, which shall be 7 meters to 15 meters apart, resulting to not maximized production.
The PCA provincial office here covers Regions 1, 2, 3 and 4B. Unlike in other areas, dela Cruz said their main problem in the four regions is the brontispa or the coconut leaf beetle which they are fighting with biological control.
“[Brontispa] is not as dangerous as the ‘coco-lisap,’” she assured.
Meanwhile, de la Cruz said the Accelerated Coconut Planting and Replanting Project (ACPRP) is still ongoing.
The ACPRP has four components: the Participatory Coconut Planting Project, the Coconut Seedlings Dispersal Project (CSDP), the Indigenous People Outreach Program and the Hatid Punla.
De la Cruz said the PCPP is a participatory and reward system that urges farmers to raise, transplant and stabilize seedlings on the ground , provided that they have the source of seed nuts and the land suitable for growing coconut trees. These farmers will be rewarded with monetary incentive worth P40.
She said they encourage farmers to abide by the ratio of 1-hectare is to 100 trees in planting.
CSDP is in partnership with the private sectors and other government agencies like the Department of Social Welfare and Development, local governmental units, non-governmental organizations, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, for the establishment of seedfarms.
“It involves the establishment of communal nurseries in strategic locations for the production of good quality seedlings for distribution to interested and qualified farmer-beneficiaries such as the DSWD’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program [4Ps] beneficiaries,” as stated on the PCA website.
IPOP, as its name suggests, hails the role of the Indigenous People (IPs) in the preservation and development of their ancestral domain and promotes the participation of IPs in the coconut planting program and to have a stake in the coconut industry development; while HP aims at revitalizing the existing PCA nurseries or seed production facilities, and if needed, the establishment of new coconut nurseries suitable for the propagation of the coconut seedlings.
Dela Cruz encouraged the planting of coconut trees as she said the demand for coco-products like buko juice, virgin coconut oil, and coconut fiber is still high.
She, however, discouraged the coconut lumber industry, citing a memorandum prohibiting the cutting of coconut trees, except only if the tree poses threat to life and property.