DAVAO Region remains as the country's top producer of coconut amid the projected decrease of 490,000 metric tons in production brought about by Typhoon Pablo last year.

Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Director Remelyn R. Recoter told reporters in an interview Thursday that based on their monitoring, some 70,000 hectares of coconut plantation have been damaged by Pablo, with each hectare producing around 70 metric tons.

"In 2012, the region's coconut production was 2.7 million metric tons. Based on the projected decrease of nearly half a million, the region's production for this year is expected to decrease to 2.2 million metric tons," she said.

Recoter said they are optimistic that the region will still be the number one coconut producing region in the country.

She said the projected production of 2.2 million metric tons for 2013 is still the production to beat for the other top producing regions of Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao, and Zamboanga Peninsula.

In 2012, Northern Mindanao produced 1.81 million metric tons of coconut while Eastern Visayas and the Zamboanga Peninsula produced 1.77 million and 1.73 million, respectively.

Recoter also said that DA is also expecting a decrease in coconut products, such as coco choir and copra.

She said they have been encouraging affected coconut farmers to plant vegetables, corn, or upland rice to help them sustain their income. The agency also urged farmers to intercrop cacao and coffee in their coconut plantation.

To help farmers rehabilitate coconut farms, Recoter said they have provided them with some 130 chainsaws and other equipment. They are also training farmers on biological control against the Rhinoceros beetles (bakukang), which usually attacked coconut plantations in the region.