THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it will provide funding for poor families and out-of-school youth willing to sell coconut products in Metro Manila, as a means of supporting coconut farmers beset by weak copra prices.
The “Healthy Drink, Healthy Life” campaign targets to expand the market for young coconut, which is the source of coconut water and takes less time and labor to get ready for market than copra meal.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said Thursday that copra prices are dictated by the world market, but the DA hopes to help farmers better exploit opportunities to sell young coconut.
Mr. Piñol said the annual surplus of coconut oil, the end-product of copram is about 200,000 metric tons (MT).
The Philippines produces 15 million MT of coconut yearly, equivalent to five billion nuts.
“There’s very little we can do in terms of pricing because it is dictated by the world market but there are small things we can do to make sure the oversupply can be addressed,” Mr. Piñol said at the launching in Quezon City.
The scheme involves lending money to out of school youth in groups of four, providing sufficient capital to buy a multi-cab and inventory.
“They can sell buko in areas approved by the MMDA,” Mr. Piñol said, referring to the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA).
MMDA General Manager Danilo D. Lim, who was present during the launch, said the authority will support the program.
Eligible to apply for the scheme are two members per family group, four out-of-school youth, and four students who can sell during school holidays.
The DA will also seek to encourage restaurants to use more young coconut products, which include the flesh of the nut.
Mr. Piñol also said coconut farmers need to be supported in producing value-added products, such as desiccated coconut, virgin coconut oil, and coco sugar. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio