High-value coconut products drive shift away from copra

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Migdonio C. Clamor, Jr.

DAVAO CITY — Coconut farmers in Davao, the top producing region in the country, have been moving away from copra production in favor of growing opportunities in value-added products.

Migdonio C. Clamor, Jr., executive director of the Davao Region Coconut Industry Cluster, Inc. (DRCICI), said growers can now sell practically all coconut components.

Meanwhile, making copra, the dried coconut meat from which oil is extracted, is a tedious and laborious process. 

“There are companies that have been producing coconut textile, sugar both from sap and shell, and other products,” Mr. Clamor said at a forum earlier this month.

DRCICI, established in 2009 that provides various services to coconut industry stakeholders, is helping farmers connect with these buyers as well as set up small-scale production systems for value-added goods.

He added that technologies are available to produce these new products at the farms.

DRCICI is preparing to pilot one technology in Pantukan, Compostela Valley, but Mr. Clamor did not provide details. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Clamor said the industry continues to require more government assistance to address the decline in coconut production.

“There is a need to cover more areas,” he said, noting that this will be one of the main concerns that will be raised during a coconut forum scheduled in Davao City in November.

Mr. Clamor explained that the impact of typhoon Pablo (international name: Bopha) in 2012 was not adequately responded to, as the rehabilitation program has helped only about 10% of the affected coconut farms.

An estimated six million fruit-bearing coconut trees were toppled by typhoon Pablo, the strongest tropical cyclone to hit Mindanao in about two decades.

Davao Region produced 1.89 metric tons (MT) of coconut in 2016, the highest among all regions, based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority. However, last year’s output was 16% lower than the 2.25 MT produced in 2015.

“We need to address this to fill in the gap.” — Carmelito Q. Francisco