AGRICULTURE Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said that the board of governors of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) will recommend to President Rodrigo R. Duterte to fully implement a law increasing the coconut content of diesel to 5%.
He said the move to a B5 standard, with 5% consisting of vegetable oil, will help support copra prices. The current level of implementation is B2, or 2% vegetable oil.
He added that raising the coconut content of diesel is expected to raise diesel prices by P0.30 per liter.
“The board passed a resolution addressed to the President to direct the National Biofuels Board to increase the biofuel component from B2 to B5. This is expected to effectively absorb a huge portion of copra right now in the market,” Mr. Piñol told reporters after his meeting with the PCA on Thursday.
Mr. Piñol said that he is expecting opposition, but explained that this is in the law and should be implemented. He said that increasing the biofuel requirement improve air quality and mileage.
“You can always expect opposition every time fuel prices increase. What we are recommending is in the law. Even the economic managers may oppose that but it is in the law,” Mr. Piñol said, referring to the Biofuels Act of 2006.
“We will ask the President for a directive to the National Biofuels Board to implement that. With this development, I think the price of copra will rise,” Mr. Piñol added.
The unimplemented Biofuels Act of 2006 requires all diesel to be blended with 5% coco methyl ester (CME), to stabilize copra prices. The biodiesel requirement should have taken effect in 2015.
He said the additional cost “will give you cleaner air especially for us in Metro Manila, and will give you greater mileage.”
The two other measures discussed during the PCA’s board meeting were the lifting of the ban on the export of mature coconuts, imposed via executive order (EO) by President Ferdinand E. Marcos, and the allocation of P300 million for the establishment of common service facilities that will feature an irradiation equipment facilitate coco coir exports.
“This EO was signed by President Ferdinand Marcos in 1985 and this has effectively prevented the export of mature coconuts but there are reports of ongoing smuggling activity. There are several countries that have expressed interest in importing mature coconuts from the Philippines and China is one of them,” Mr. Piñol said.
Mr. Piñol said the irradiation facility will be established in Davao for use by the coconut sector and other industries producing export materials such as fruits and fish.
“The money for the machine is available,” according to Mr. Piñol.
The PCA, in principle, also approved a national replanting program covering 1 million hectares for the next four years, Mr. Piñol said.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), coconut production during the second quarter was 3.33 million metric tons (MT), up 3.9% from a year earlier. — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio