THE Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) is seeking additional funding of P11 billion, against its 2023 budget of P1 billion, citing its mandate to distribute improved varieties of coconut trees as authorized by the coconut trust fund law.

“The reason why we are asking for (additional) funds is because we really need to replace the coconut trees with better varieties,” PCA Administrator and Chief Executive Officer Bernie F. Cruz said at a news conference.

“We (want) to establish a seed garden in every coconut producing area so that the logistical problem does not become an obstacle, and we can source seed inputs in that province,” he added.

The PCA also wants to fund coconut fertilization, and shared processing facilities for the use of coconut farmers.

Mr. Cruz said the Philippines is currently importing copra from Indonesia and Papa New Guinea with the reduction in domestic supply.

He said the current average yield of 44 coconuts per tree each year could rise to 80-100 through the use of hybrid varieties.

Ma-doble mo lang ’yon kahit hindi tumaas ang copra, definitely doble kaagad ang income ng ating farmers (Doubling the yield, even if copra prices remain steady, will definitely double farmer incomes).”

NCA Deputy Administrator for Operations Roel M. Rosales said that the farmgate price of copra has dropped to P21-P24 per kilogram from P37 last year.

“The fall in copra prices is due to soft demand on the international market. We’re still trying to recover from the losses during the pandemic,” he said.

Mr. Rosales expects the farmgate price of copra to improve starting in September.

Under Republic Act No. 11524 or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund law of 2021, the PCA is entitled to the fund’s proceeds to support the Coconut Hybridization Program.

The program involves the mass production of high-yielding coconut varieties for distribution to qualified farmers.

Coconut production in 2022 was 14.93 million metric tons, up 1.5%, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

Mr. Cruz said extra funding promises an export boost, describing the industry as a “top three-dollar earner.” — Sheldeen Joy Talavera