Coconut farmers need not be poor!
Coconut farmers need not be poor, according to Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA). This pronouncement however remains superficial as our coconut farmers continue to live in a miserable condition today.
One cause of this is that the government remains stubborn or slow in heeding the clamor of the farmer groups for the immediate release of the coco levy fund now reportedly amounting to P 9billion in dividends alone. And after decades of legal battles, the issue remains undecided and the funds unreleased to date.
Noticeably only traders who are monopolizing the coco industry are benefitting whatever programs implemented by the government. This is because government interventions from infrastructure to regular financial/capability support system are almost “non-existent” if not “inaccessible” particularly to most of our farmers in the hinterlands. As this continues to happen, poor farmers in the barrios remain at the mercy of coconut traders when it comes to price negotiations of their farm produce.
Another problem hounding our coconut farmers is that most of them are tenants, landless. Their situation is getting worst as the government remains sluggard in its comprehensive agrarian reform program.
I’ve read the government is promoting new breed of coconut by-products such as virgin coco oil, coco sugar, coco coir, and coco water.
Speaking of coco water, PCA remains confident this year’s coco water export figures “will even exceed that of total 2011 figures which registered 16,685,350 liters in volume and $15,113,152.00 and value,” this as more people overseas become health conscious, turning to coconut water beverages which is known to be rich in vitamins and minerals.
Yet my question remains the same: Why is it that our own coco farmers remain poor and emaciated today ? (Comments at firstname.lastname@example.org)
By: Ronald O. Reyes
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