By Adrian H. Halili, Reporter

THE GOVERNMENT needs to fully utilize the coconut levy asset fund to revitalize the industry by mounting a major replanting effort, according to coconut products manufacturer Axelum Resources Corp.

“There’s a lot of money for replanting. If there is political will to utilize that money to replant and to implement all the programs of (the Philippine Coconut Authority [PCA]), we’ll be in a good place,” Romeo I. Chan, Axelum Chairman and Chief Executive Officer told BusinessWorld.

Republic Act No. 11524, or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act, ordered the placement of coconut levy assets into a trust fund aimed at rehabilitating and modernizing the industry.

Last year, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. ordered the PCA to draft a plan for the rehabilitation of the coconut industry, including the planting of 100 million coconut trees by 2028. The rehabilitation plan aims to address the advancing age of the nut bearing trees.

In January, the PCA said that it was planning to plant 8.5 million coconut seedlings this year.

“On our part in the private sector, we are doing our share of replanting,” Mr. Chan added.

He said that in a partnership with The Vita Coco Company, Inc., it is planning to replant one million coconut trees in the next five years.

Meanwhile, Mr. Chan said that the impact of El Niño on the coconut industry may manifest itself after 12 months.

“If you look at the total coconut landscape, it’s not going to be a great deal. Our food industry only occupies 10% of the total market. The rest of the coconuts go to copra,” he told reporters.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, about 80% of copra produced in the Philippines is used for coconut oil production.

He said that the company also looking at using the unused coconut water thrown out during copra production.

“The copra farmers throw away the water as well, so that is another area for use to increase our supply base,” Mr. Chan said.

The company last week renewed a coconut water supply deal with Vita Coco. The deal has an initial 10-year period, with an optional five-year extension.

“But you can gauge from the last 15 years, we did P15 billion, which is average of P1 billion a year. But we’re going to do much more than that in the next years,” Mr. Chan said.