Cam Norte Rep. Tallado lobbies for financial aid for copra farmers

QUEZON CITY—Camarines Norte 1st District Rep. Josie Tallado is calling for financial aid for copra farmers following the report that as of June 2019, the local copra price average dropped significantly to Php13.73 per kilo compared to the average farmgate price of Php20.34/kilo in July last year, based on the data provided by the Philippine Coconut Authority in its 2018-2019 Monthly Copra Price Trends.

“The price decrease is alarming because it directly translates to a similar decrease in the income of copra producers, especially during a time when prices of basic commodities have risen. It is but proper for the government to step in to improve the situation of copra farmers in the country.” Congresswoman Josie Tallado said.

According to the latest Camarines Norte Quickstat as of June 2018 published by the Philippine Statistics Authority, in the province of Camarines Norte alone, there are 85,405 hectares devoted to coconut farming which produces 249,454 metric tons of coconut products, making it the top agricultural product in the province. In far second is the Palay crop with only 23,867 hectares devoted to it and next to it is Banana with only 4,524 hectares covered.

“Considering that most farmers in Camarines Norte, particularly in the 1st District are coconut farmers, the impact of a reduced copra market price gravely affects their livelihood which is why I am calling for financial aid from our concerned government agencies like the Department of Agriculture to help our struggling farmers,” Congresswoman Tallado quipped.

Congresswoman Tallado mentioned that she already communicated with the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), through the Office of Deputy Administrator Roel M. Rosales to thresh out ways on how to alleviate the plight of copra farmers and introduce cocohub projects that will be beneficial to them.

The Copra industry is heavily dependent on export which is why its price is dictated by the supply of coconut oil in the world market. The decrease in the international demand for coconut products has led to the decrease in the prices.

According to the Department of Agriculture and the PCA they have been looking for ways to boost domestic demand.

One way to boost demand is to increase the coco methyl ester (CME) content in local biodiesel from 2% to 5% as proposed by the National Biofuels Board (NBB). This increase will translates to 350,000 tons of coconut oil consumption which is about 29% of coconut oil production in a year according to United Coconut Association of the Philippines.

“Section 5.3 of the Biofuels Act of 2006 or R.A. 9367 mentioned that the biodiesel blend maybe increased from its current rate of 2% as may be advised by the NBB and if the latter is already suggesting an increase to 5% that should be considered because it will have a significant impact to the consumption of the domestic copra product and will boost the coconut industry.” Congresswoman Tallado said.