COCONUT farmers in Davao Region urged the government to beef up its support as the promising results of the virgin coconut oil (VCO) to treat the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) present a bright business opportunity for them.
"The Philippines is one of the top producing countries of coconut. If we can anchor on that opportunity, the potential is huge," Coconut Industry Cluster Link Inc. (Cocolink) executive director Migdonio Clamor Jr. said.
Data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN-FAO) bared that the Philippines ranked second to Indonesia as among the top coconut producing countries, with an average of 14,126,599 tons annual yield from 1994 to 2018.
Clamor said the recent pronouncements of President Rodrigo Duterte for Congress to finalize the Coconut Farmer's Trust Fund for the development of the coconut industry will be a big help.
"Yung trust fund na sinasabi natin pwede dyan gamitin to really help the farmers (The trust fund can really be used to help the farmers)," he said.
He earlier noted that there is still not enough research and development (R&D) geared to improve agricultural practices and coconut production in the country, not to mention the low prices of coconuts.
He added there is also a need to value-add their coconut produce for the farmers to gain more income and the study on the potential the VCO versus Covid-19 may just pave a way for it.
"There have already been health claims regarding VCO such as being a cure for Alzheimer's Disease and we are happy that one of the new developments is for Covid-19," he said.
Early this week, local researchers in Covid-19 hotspot Cebu City reported a "very positive result" in VCO's capability to prevent and manage the disease.
Equilibrium Integrative Health Clinic Medical director Dr. Jose Mondejar said 45 out of the 69 Covid-19 patients in Sitio Zapatera, Barangay Luz in Cebu City recovered within two weeks after initially taking one tablespoon of VCO, twice a day for three days and gradually increased the dosage to thrice a day.
He said the same "promising result and success" was also noted with seven employees of Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) when they tested negative for coronavirus within a week after taking VCO and another three workers recovered within eight days.
Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato Dela Peña also bared that the majority of patients in the first of three clinical trials had gone home after taking VCO for 28 days.
It involved 45 Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms in Sta. Rosa Community Hospital.
In late April this year, DOST-Davao Director Anthony Sales said once the study on VCO against Covid-19 is successful, the agency might produce food supplements out of the oil at the DOST-funded Food Processing Innovation Center in Philippine Women's College.
"We are looking at the VCO as a possible ingredient for ready-to-eat products that we can easily produce and distribute in times of pandemic," he said.
"It is really promising. Hopefully, wag ito bitawan ng government (We hope that the government will hold on to it)," Clamor said.