THE COCONUT Farmers and Industry Roadmap (Coco-FIRM) will serve as the basis for the development plan to be carried out under Republic Act (RA) No. 11524 or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act, the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) said.

PCA Administrator Benjamin R. Madrigal, Jr. said in a mobile phone interview Tuesday that Coco-FIRM points to the general direction of the action needed to improve the coconut industry and improve the lives of coconut farmers.

“Coco-FIRM will serve as the backbone of the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan (CFIDP). Meanwhile, the CFIDP will complete the details and the parameters for evaluation, reporting and monitoring, and allocation under the Trust Fund,” Mr. Madrigal said.

“Compared to Coco-FIRM, CFIDP will also focus on the roles of the various implementing agencies as provided in the law,” he added.

According to Mr. Madrigal, the roadmap has seven thematic areas such as the promotion of coconut farmers’ welfare and social protection; empowerment of coconut farmers’ groups; increasing and sustaining coconut production programs; and the creation of hubs for coconut products.  

He added that Coco-FIRM also aims to enhance the global competitiveness of traditional and non-traditional coconut products, expand trade and marketing, conduct innovative research and development, and improve institutional policy.  

RA 11524, signed by President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Feb. 26, provides for the drafting of the CFIDP to serve as guide in deploying investment from the trust fund, which was funded by taxes collected from coconut farmers during the Marcos administration.

Under the law, the Bureau of the Treasury will transfer P10 billion to the trust fund in the first year, followed by another P10 billion in the second year, P15 billion in the third year, P15 billion in the fourth year, and P25 billion in the fifth year.

In a separate statement Tuesday, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said the PCA is the first DA agency to have completed a commodity industry roadmap.

Mr. Dar added that the law allows for the modernization and improvement of the coconut industry, with assured funding of P75 billion over the next five years.

“We consider (the law) a ‘game-changer’ that will help transform the lives of 2.5 million coconut farmers and their families by turning low productivity into higher gains,” Mr. Dar said.

According to the PCA, the Philippines is the top exporter of coconut products, generating average export revenue of P91.4 billion between 2014 and 2018. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave