Provincial Gov’t, National Agencies to Mitigate Impacts of Low Copra Price

Coconut trees cover large portion of Davao Oriental’s land area. PHOTO BY EDEN JHAN LICAYAN

DAVAO ORIENTAL—The Provincial Government along with national agencies have laid down their respective plans to mitigate the impacts of the low copra price to coconut farmers.

In an inter-agency meeting on August 31, immediate assistance such as cash-for-work programs and animal dispersal project are some of the interventions considered by each office to help coconut farmers recover from copra price fluctuations.

The Provincial Engineering Office is also considering to duplicate the Community-Based Maintenance Program to all barangays, wherein the villages who are a recipient of government road project will take charge of the maintenance, providing the communities opportunity to generate income while maintaining road infrastructures.

Different agencies and provincial government department heads convened Thursday afternoon to discuss their mitigation measures on the impacts of the low copra price.

Environment and Natural Resources Office (ENRO) Head Dolores Valdesco said she will submit a proposal to the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) to fund a cleanup program that the ENRO will implement in all barangays.

Sarah Gudes, Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO) Head, proposed the provision of food packs through the DSWD. Moreover, the Department of Social Welfare and Development is currently conducting a cash-for-work program in every municipality through coastal cleanup, she said.

PSWDO Head Sarah Gudes

“At this time they have completed other municipalities but others are still on-going. The rate is around P300 per day which is good for 10 days,” Gudes said.

While the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) has a regular need of enumerators to conduct surveys for them, Domingo Cruz Jr., Senior Trade and Industry Specialist, said that their office will prioritize the hiring of dependents of coconut farmers. He added that he will suggest to the Provincial Director the realignment of the department’s remaining funds for value-adding program.

The National Irrigation Authority (NIA), which is in constant need of labor force, committed to hiring family members of coconut farmers.

Dr. Eric Dagmang said that their office will be distributing swine, chicken, among others, through Animal Dispersal Program.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) has an on-going delivery of 60 cattle while the Provincial Veterinary Office will be distributing some 200 swine along with cattle, carabao, and chicken through the Animal Dispersal Program.

Long-term Solution

Aside from immediate interventions to mitigate the impacts of low copra price, the PCA will stabilize the coconut industry.

Provincial Chief of Staff Ednar Dayanghirang said during the Kapihan Sang Kapitolyo on Thursday that the PCA is pursuing the increase of coconut component in biodiesel from 2% to 5% so that local demand for coconut oil may also increase.

He said increasing local demand for coconut oil will alleviate copra price fluctuations caused by stiff competition of coconut oil against cheaper vegetable oil in the world market.

Chief of Staff Ednar Dayanghirang (center) during the Kapihan Sang Kapitolyo, a press conference with local media practitioner.

“Ninety percent of Philippine coconut oil is exported to the world market as food and even industrial pharmaceutical industry where there is big competition with other country’s vegetable oil. And it is impossible for us to control the world market,” Dayanghirang said.

Based on the data provided by the PCA, the copra price has reached P53 in January 2017 which gradually dropped to P25 in July 2018, thus, affecting the province’s local economy, Dayanghirang said.

He said farmers here have lost at least P3, 000 per month, or at least P1.8 billion losses in the local economy in the last six months.

“We are looking at this as really an economic problem of the province that will redound to a social problem,” he said.

Edgar Oliveros, PCA Provincial Officer revealed their agency’s long-term solution to copra price fluctuation.

Moreover, PCA Provincial Officer Edgar Oliveros revealed during the Kapihan Sang Kapitolyo that “the PCA is trying to lift the ban on export of husked nuts in China for us to have an alternate market so that we won’t be relying on copra production alone.” By Riza M. Golez/Photos by Rhea Shane Laureano

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