THE Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) is pushing for a massive planting of coconut trees in Negros Occidental given its vast available areas potential for production.

Rodrigo Gamarcha Jr., coconut development manager of PCA-Negros Occidental, said increasing the country’s coconut population is one of the agency’s special programs under the directive of Administrator Avelino Andal.

Gamarcha said that this year, PCA-Negros Occidental has increased its target allocation, or regionwide share, to 1, 000 hectares from only 500 hectares in the previous years.

“Negros Occidental still has wide areas potential for

coconut production thus, we are optimistic to reach our target additional plantations this year,” he added.

PCA-Negros Occidental noted a cumulative increase of 25 to 30 percent in production areas from 2013 to 2016.

In terms of areas, the province currently has about 40,000 hectares of coconut plantations with almost 2.4 million bearing trees, it added.

Aside from open areas, the agency is looking at utilizing perimeter boundaries of sugarcane farms in the province.

There is also about 700 kilometers available shoreline areas potential for coconut plantation, Gamarcha said.

“There will be portions for replanting. Meaning, we can also increase coconut plantations within the same areas,” Gamarcha said.

He also said that if the use of P74-billion coco levy fund will be approved, PCA-Negros Occidental will push for additional one million coconut trees to be planted in the province in the next five years.

“We will immediately start this more massive planting as soon as the law will allow the measure in using the fund for the benefits of coconut farmers and their families,” Gamarcha added.