DA plans to irrigate coconut farms

By Catherine Teves

August 14, 2018, 9:38 pm

MANILA -- Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol plans to have coconut farms in the country irrigated to fortify the country's status of being one of the world's top producers of coconut.

Coconut farms in the country are not irrigated at present, according to the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA).

"Irrigated coconut farms can produce double," Piñol said at the opening of the 32nd National Coconut Week (NCW) celebration in
Metro Manila on Tuesday.

The agriculture czar also plans to introduce the concept of "fertigation," a process combining fertilization and irrigation by injecting soil fertilizers into irrigation systems.

Raising production will further boost the Philippine coconut industry, benefiting the country and coconut farmers nationwide, he said.

Citing latest available data, the PCA said the country produced in 2016 alone nearly 14 billion coconut nuts, an output which yielded 2.64 million metric tons of copra and 1.66 million MT of coconut oil.

Some 3.57 million hectares nationwide were planted to coconut that year, the PCA data also showed.

But the country's coconut areas are not irrigated, PCA Administrator Romulo de la Rosa said.

"Such areas rely on rain," he said.

De la Rosa also sees the need for irrigation to help further boost the country's coconut production.

Dubbed in the Philippines as the "tree of life," the coconut plant's different parts have multiple uses.

Among the products from coconut are coconut water inside the nut; coconut milk, virgin coconut oil, coconut flour, and dessicated coconut from the nut's whitish meat; coco peat, geo textiles, and coco fiber from the nut's husk; personal and home accessories from the nut's shell, as well as coco lumber from the tree's trunk.

The National Coconut Week aims to promote further research and investments in the coconut industry.

Earlier, Piñol had disclosed about piloting a solar-powered irrigation system for a coconut grower-advocate's farm in Leyte province.

The piloting, he said, would enable DA to validate if irrigation increases coconut production.

"We aim to determine the number of nuts produced before and after irrigating the farm," Piñol explained.

He said more rice farms in the country are now having solar-powered irrigation systems.

These, he said, are simpler, faster, and cheaper to build than traditional dams that the state-owned National Irrigation Administration puts up.

Piñol said a solar irrigation system costs about PHP7 million to put up.

Typically, according to experts, such systems' solar panels capture the sun's energy, which operates the pump that draws water from water bodies and other sources. The water can be stored and eventually released to planting areas. (PNA)