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Dying coconut industry needs help

SLT 1233

October 7-13, 2023

SOUTHERN LEYTE – Coconut is a major industry in Southern Leyte that has been threatened due to natural and man-made causes.
Before Typhoon Odette in December 2021, the province had a total of 7,981,237 coconut trees. After the typhoon, data from the Philippine Coconut Authority-Southern Leyte showed that only 4,386,745 coconut trees survived – almost one-half of the total coconut trees that previously supported many families.
The Philippine government has allotted P755 million fund for the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development and the Coconut Hybridization Project. This amount is earmarked for the rehabilitation of the coconut industry with the target to plant 100 million trees for the next five years, or 20 million trees annually. However, only 8.78% of the above amount has been used in 2022.
The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) has been tasked to develop the country’s coconut industry, and is challenged by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to step up and intensify its implementation to modernize the industry.
PCA-Southern Leyte’s Acting Provincial Chief Carmelita Maturan said that Eastern Visayas is tasked to implement the Hybridization of Coconut, with the province of Southern Leyte assigned to have two coconut hybrid farms – one in Maasin and the other, in Hinunangan. The hybrid farm in Maasin will be in Barangay San Isidro; and the other in SLSU-Hinunangan.
PCA has recommended for the issuance of a Memorandum Circular that will involve all concerned national government agencies and all local government units (LGUs) to undertake efforts in support to the coconut planting and replanting program.
The PCA explained that in order to plant 100 million trees in the next five years, a whole-of-nation approach is needed.
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) last year recorded 340.6 million bearing trees, a 6.2 million decline from the 346.8 million bearing trees a year before.
In Region 8, the coconut industry generates 40% of Eastern Visayas’ wealth in terms of income and job generation activities. In the past, the Philippines was the world’s largest coconut producer, but has now stepped down to the second largest coconut producer, that accounts for approximately 14.7 million metric tons; recording a total export value of coconut products amounting to US$3.22 billion in 2022.
(GMReyes)

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