Piñol to expand PHL coconut-growing areas

The incoming chief of the Department of Agriculture (DA) on Wednesday said he is keen on expanding coconut-production areas in the country by 600,000 hectares over the next six years.

Incoming Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said the expansion of coconut-cultivation areas will allow the Philippines to reclaim its status as the world’s top coconut producer.

“We have to regain our reputation as the No. 1 coconut country in the world,” Piñol told reporters in a news briefing.

He said the target of expanding coconut-producing areas is “doable,” citing as basis the inventory of coconut seedlings that can be provided by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), an attached agency of the DA.

Piñol noted that the San Ramon Research Facility of the PCA is capable of producing coconut seedlings for the additional 600,000 hectares of cultivation areas.

An intercropping approach will also be implemented for coconut production so that farmers will not be dependent on just one crop, according to Piñol.

Government data showed that there are about 3.5 million hectares, or 25 percent, of Philippine agricultural lands devoted to coconut. Coconut is grown in 68 out of 79 provinces in the country.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that the country’s coconut production in the first quarter of the year declined by 5.15 percent to 3.18 million metric tons (MMT), from 3.35 MMT a year ago.

Earlier, the United Coconut Associations of the Philippines (Ucap) said this could be due to El Niño.

Ucap also attributed the slight decline in coconut-oil exports in April to the drought which hit top coconut-producing regions in the country. Coconut oil is the country’s top farm export.

Preliminary data from Ucap showed that coconut oil exports declined by 0.5 percent to 54,500 metric tons (MT) in April, from 54,776 MT recorded a year ago.

“[Coconut production] is only starting to recover from the effects of El Niño. If you compare this to the normal average, which is 80,000 MT, this is still relatively lower,” Ucap Executive Director Yvonne T.V. Agustin said.


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