THE coconut industry said it is seeking to build mills to process oil from white copra with money provided by the trust fund which was capitalized from coconut levy assets.
“The industry should focus on updating its marketing strategies, including packaging and labeling, to avoid being left behind by competitors,” Francisco Rubio, founder and chief executive officer of Green Life Coco Products, Inc. said in a statement.
White copra is a higher-value product that can be used to make cooking oil, body care products, virgin coconut oil (VCO), and biodiesel.
The Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) National Sectoral Committees (NSC) on Coconut conducted its second-quarter consultation with the industry, which brought up the lack of marketing and processing interventions by the government.
NSC Chairman Charles R. Avila said the Philippine Coconut Authority must upgrade marketing plans for the commodity, which he described as vital.
“Start thinking about how you will handle the marketing side because the worst part of any successful production is when you don’t know where to bring it and sell it,” he said.
In 2021, former President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11521 or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act, which put coconut levy assets into a trust fund that will finance rehabilitation and modernization projects for the industry.
Under the law, the Bureau of the Treasury is required to transfer P10 billion immediately to the trust fund, P10 billion in the second year; P15 billion in the third year; P15 billion in the fourth year; and P25 billion in the fifth year.
Farmers are allowed to tap the trust fund to develop the industry, but fund use is guided by the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan (CFIDP).
Mr. Rubio has informed the committee that the establishment of white copra oil mills is listed as a priority activity in the CFIDP.
In a media conference on Wednesday, Floreliz P. Avellana, a division chief at PCAF, said a resolution is being prepared on mill investments.
“The resolution… will be sent to the Senior (Agriculture) Undersecretary and (the funds) should be coming from the levy fund for more processing plants. We are still working with the resolution but definitely that is one of the suggestions of the committee on coconut,” she said. — Sheldeen Joy Talavera