The Philippines could once again be among the top coconut producing countries in the world in 10 years with the expected crafting of a 5-Year Coconut Industry Road Map, the release of funds from the coconut levy and the introduction of newly-developed varieties by the country's scientists.
Agriculture Secretary Manny Pinol said this optimistic projection is anchored mainly on the development of high-yielding and versatile coconut varieties by the Philippine Coconut Authority and the private sector.
Pinol cited the statement of coconut breeders Ramon Rivera, head of the PCA Research Station, and Gerry Baylon who said there are at least three outstanding new coconut varieties developed by Filipino plant breeders which could propel the country back on top again.
The champion variety is called PCA 15-2 which is a cross of the Malayan Red Dwarf and the Tagnanan varieties which is very versatile producing an estimated 6 metric tons of Copra per year with outstanding qualities for the production of virgin coconut oil and coconut sugar.
Bred in the PCA San Ramon Research Station, MRD-Tagnanan is adaptable nationwide and matures early, bearing fruits as early as 2.5 to 3 years.
The two other outstanding varieties are the PCA 15-1 produced by cross-breeding the Catigan and Laguna Tall and the PCA 15-9 which is a cross of the Tacunan and Tagnanan Varieties.
Both PCA 15-1 and PCA 15-9 are adaptable nationwide with minimal fertilization, capable of producing between 3.5 to 4 metric tons of Copra and are outstanding producers of coconut dugar and virgin coconut oil.
These varieties start to bear fruit at 2.5 to 3 years.
"Planting materials of these varieties coming from the PCA Stations alone could cover an initial 20,000 hectares which could then be sources of planting materials for further expansion three years later," Pinol said.
While the Copra Production potentials of these varieties are great, Pinol told Rivera and Baylon yesterday to focus more on the high-value products of coconut like coco sugar, virgin coconut oil, coconut water and green coconuts.
Pinol recently met with US Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Ted McKinney wherein the agriculture secretary was informed that the US will open its market to Green Coconuts from the Philippines, a market which is now dominated by Thailand.
"The opening of this market could ease up the problems of the Philippine coconut industry caused by very low prices of copra," Pinol said.
He said the return of the PCA to its mother agency, the Department of Agriculture, opens a new horizon for the country's coconut farmers.
Lined up for implementation by the DA now are programs which would introduce secondary crops to the vast coconut farms and plantations.
"Coffee, cacao, black pepper, vegetables and even sorghum could be inter-cropped with coconuts to offer farmers alternative sources of income when the prices of coconut products are down," Pinol said.
With 3.3-million hectares of coconut farms, there would be thousands of hectares where other food products could be grown to contribute to the country's food security and at the same time reduce poverty in the countryside, Pinol said.
He said next year, when the 5-Year Coconut Industry Development Road Map shall have been completed and hopefully the Coconut Levy Funds are made available, the coconut Industry will undergo a massive rehabilitation.
"In 10 years, the Philippines will be back on top again as the one of the world's top producers of Coconut and its high value products," the official said.