‘Tree of life’ threatened by gov’t inaction
The Philippines urgently needs a coconut revitalization program to cash in on the coconut craze sweeping planet Earth. Brazil, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and other nations have geared up their respective coconut industries for this reality—but our Department of Agriculture and the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) continue to do nothing to help Philippine coconut farmers and trees.
Supertyphoon “Yolanda” destroyed 33 million coconut trees in the islands of Leyte and Samar, per official announcement of the PCA, which still insists that the Calabarzon infestation hasn’t been that bad even as the private sector estimates that 2 million coconut trees have been ruined by coco pests. The decimation has reduced the number of Philippine coconut trees to 305 million, down from the PCA’s 2012 inventory of 340 million. And if it’s true that 40 percent of these remaining trees are senile, the number of reliably productive Philippine coconut trees drops to only 183 million.
From 340 million to 183 million—that’s a 46-percent drop. But this does not seem to alarm the PCA and/or the DA which have yet to initiate new programs for the dying Philippine coconut industry. The only coconut-related asset that any government official cares about is the coconut levy fund, whose billions of pesos could finance many a political campaign and further enrich those porkers in the Napolists!
As such, any group that wants to revitalize Philippine coconuts must do so sans any government support during the Alcala-Forbes watch. [Alcala is Agriculture Secretary Prospero Alcala and Forbes is PCA Administrator Euclides Forbes.—Ed.] That’s the inconvenient and unpleasant truth. When greed and incompetence team up in arrogant impunity, public service be damned!
Fortunately, 183 million coconut trees isn’t too shabby a starting point. BalikProbinsiya, the Philippine Coconut Society (PCS) and the Pambansang Kilusan ng Samahang Magsasaka (Pakisama) are ready with a Coconut Revitalization Program to bring inclusive coconut renaissance to rural Philippine grassroots. Watch Lakan extra premium lambanog’s launch as the Philippine “single malt” at the Coconut House in Quezon City Memorial Circle. This will be accompanied by private efforts to save Calabarzon plantations from coco pests and to establish manufacturing plants that transform different coconut raw materials (tuba, buko, niyog) into finished products for export, like cocosugar, virgin coconut oil, skimmed milk, cocoflour and many others.
With or without Alcala and Forbes, the coconut will remain our tree of life!
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