COCONUT farmers in Davao region are urged to venture into other coconut-based value added products as copra farmgate price continues to decline.
As of June 19, 2019, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed that the farmgate price of copra has dropped to P15.23 per kilogram (kg), a 37.76 percent decrease from last year’s P24.47 per kg.
PSA 11 regulation officer Arnel Cabillan told SunStar Davao that it started in 2018 that the copra price experienced a downward trend. He said one of the reasons of the declining copra price is the supply glut in the world market as 80 percent of our coconut products are being exported. Around 79 percent of the exported coconut products are coconut oils, which copra is the raw material.
“Kaya natin sinasabing mga supply glut ay dahil marami tayong klase ng vegetable oils na yung ating neighboring countries and competitors in Europe ay sabay-sabay ding nagsu-supply at nag-e-export,” he said.
“Business kasi ito. Masyadong malaki ang supply kaya kumukuha sila ng mas mura tulad ng palm oil kaya nahihila ang presyo ng coconut oil natin. Nasanay tayo sa export kaya ngayon kapag nagkaroon ng oversupply sa labas, nabibitin ‘yung coconut oil natin at kailangan sumunod tayo sa presyo ng mas murang oil,” he added.
He said market share of soybean oil in the world market is 29 percent, palm oil is 35 percent, while coconut oil is only two percent. He, however, said that the copra price is volatile since it is not always all the time that there will be an oversupply.
The government, for its part, came up with programs that will help the coconut farmers up their feet.
They encouraged farmers to venture into other coconut-based value added products or products that could add income like virgin coconut oil-based soap, and cosmetic products, coconut sugar, coconut vinegar, nata de coco, young tender coconuts, coconut shell charcoal and activated carbon, coir and coir-based products, and ‘buko’ juice.
“We have been doing a massive campaign to coconut farmers to promote value-adding of coconut like buko juice, hindi lang tayo dapat umasa sa copra,” Cabillan said.
“Just recently, Secretary Manny Piñol went to United States at sinubukan niyang i-convince ang US to open market for buko juice or the fresh young coconut. At least kasi kung makakuha ng magandang presyo ang buko ay kahit papaano ay makakatulong sa mga coconut farmers natin,” he added.
Other programs include farmers being taught to grow other crops under coconut trees or intercropping; distribution of livestock to coconut farmers; distribution of planting materials; rehabilitation and fertilization of coconut trees; training and distribution of machineries and processors; and provision of additional capital through loans to support the farmers in developing their lands.
In the data obtained from PSA 11, Davao region has a total area of 495,218 hectares planted with coconut trees in 2018. More than 236,000 are coconut farmers. There are only 784 copra traders around the region, 75 buko traders, 234 lumber dealers and traders, and 541 husked nut traders.
Cabillan admitted that there are some farmers who already converted their coconut farms into other crops and there is possibly a decrease on the number of coconut farmers in the region. Still, he believed that with the programs and projects of the government, the coconut industry will continue to survive.