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Gov’t oblivious to coco’s vast marketing potential

/ 12:35 AM July 10, 2014

Everyone says the coconut is “the tree of life,” but it seems government doesn’t know about this.  Seeking an “inclusive” economic growth plan, the Department of Agriculture and the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) say that 25 million Filipinos depend on coconuts for their livelihood. Yet, government seems totally oblivious of this ubiquitous palm growing in almost all provinces, cities and towns.

There has been obvious neglect and incompetence on the part of both the DA and the PCA.  That’s why former senator Kiko Pangilinan has been fielded by President Aquino to fix the Proceso Alcala-Euclides Forbes fumbles before the 2016 elections. If Pangilinan does little to deviate from the blunders (or is it plunders?) of his predecessors, he will be blamed for all past sins on the principle of “last touch,” and he probably knows this.

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Here’s how the ubiquitous coconuts might be Kiko’s lifeline:

After deducting losses from Supertyphoon “Yolanda” and the ongoing Calabarzon infestation, Philippine coconut trees now number a little less than 300 million.  By any reckoning, that number is still a healthy and sustainable agricultural base to support industrial manufacturing, given the present worldwide demand for coconut products.  Virgin coconut oil (VCO), cocosugar, buko juice and geotextiles (from cococoir) are some of the latest bestsellers in international markets. And less than a month from now, Philippine Craft Distillers Inc. (PCDI) will launch a premium product meant to establish lambanog as a separate liquor category on international store shelves.

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Given the pioneering efforts of the Philippine Coconut Society  and its “frescohan” approach, it’s not hard to envision how coconut exports can translate into over $10 billion in annual revenues for the country.  Despite all past advantages as the world’s foremost coconut producer, the Philippines only generates $1 billion from coconut exports annually.  Coconut’s finished products are mostly consumables so it won’t be difficult to increase market share year after year given that our Philippine coconuts, like our mangoes, are the best of nature’s bounty.  All that’s needed is a little processing technology and marketing savvy.

PCDI’s coming launch of Lakan extra-premium lambanog will affirm how a traditional Filipino spirit can capture world patronage given modern technology and professional marketing.  If more entrepreneurs can follow suit in other coconut products, hitting $3 billion in revenues from annual coconut exports will be easy.  And the success will be credited to Kiko …  and P-Noy.

—JOSE OSIAS,

[email protected]

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TAGS: Coconut, department of agriculture, Kiko Pangilinan, Philippine Coconut Authority, President Aquino
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