DAVAO CITY — An official of Davao Oriental province, one of the leading coconut producers, has called on the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) to address the plummeting prices of coconut and copra.
Davao Oriental Chief of Staff Ednar G. Dayanghirang, speaking at a media forum here last week, said farmers have sought the province’s help in addressing the 50% drop in prices, which is dictated by processors.
Mr. Dayanghirang, who is also a coconut farmer, said the copra price was around P40 per kilo in the first quarter, but is now at P20. The buying price for a whole nut, meanwhile, has dropped to P5 from P10.50 previously.
“It’s a 50% reduction… We are talking here of 103,000 coconut farmers in the province of Davao Oriental alone and most of the farmers are small farmers or CARP (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform) beneficiaries,” Mr. Dayanghirang said.
He noted that Davao Oriental produced 140 million kilos of copra in 2017.
“The PCA already knows that this is somehow a big problem that is killing the farmers but a big opportunity for the processors. Is this legal, what the processors are doing?” he said.
He noted that the whole nut produces coconut oil, as extracted from copra, but other food products such as desiccated coconut and coconut water.
“We want the PCA to do something since they have, as reported, been talking to the processors. Within the bounds of the law,” he said.
To mitigate the impact of the low coconut prices, Mr. Dayanghirang said the provincial government recently convened and asked government agencies to assist through programs such as alternative livelihood opportunities for farmers in public construction projects.
He said the province will roll out a coastal clean-up program for farmers, who will be paid for their work.
“We will pay the coastal farmers. Funding will come from the disaster funds. We cannot eliminate (the problem), we have to mitigate. We are asking the national agencies to follow,” Mr. Dayanghirang said. — Maya M. Padillo