Compostela Valley coconut farmers plot upgrade to value-added products

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A pile of copra at an oil mill. -- BW/LEAN S. DAVAL, JR.

DAVAO CITY — About 5,000 coconut farmers in Compostela Valley gathered last week during the province’s 1st Coconut Summit to discuss how to upgrade to value-added products.

The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) are assisting the farmers diversify as copra prices remain low.

“The PCA has no control over the price because the pricing is being dictated by the world market,” according to Socorro Sofia Pueblo, PCA manager for Davao del Norte and representing Compostela Valley.

“As of last week, the millgate price of copra was higher at P20 per kilo but in ComVal, presuming a P3 difference, more or less P16 to P17,” she said during the Kapehan sa Davao media forum.

One of the initial interventions introduced to help farmers was intercropping with such plants as cacao.

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-Compostela Valley Provincial Director Lucky Siegfred Balleque said his office is working on the development of export commodities such as virgin coconut oil (VCO), coco water, coco sugar, and coconut-based handicrafts.

“That is the direction really of DTI and other government agencies, to develop products other than copra,” Mr. Balleque said at the same forum.

At the summit, farmers and processors were given an orientation on the planned coconut industry road map.

At the 2nd World Coconut Congress held in Manila in August, PCA Administrator Gonzalo T. Duque said the industry plan will be built around Training, Empowerment, Action centers for government services and Markets. — Maya M. Padillo