NEW TEAM. The Philippines' coconut industry is expected to receive a major face lift with the newly reconstituted Board. It guaranteed that the PHP75-billion coco levy fund will directly benefit the country's 2.5 million small coconut farmers. (Screengrab) 

MANILA – The Department of Agriculture-Philippine Coconut Authority (DA-PCA) bared that its newly reconstituted Board has agreed to prioritize the crafting of Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan (CFIDP).

DA-PCA Administrator Benjamin Madrigal, Jr. on Friday said the CFIDP, which will be submitted to the Office of the President for approval within 120 days, was among their most urgent activities during the Board's first meeting on March 15.

In December 2020, the DA supported the proposed legislation of both chambers of Congress creating a coconut industry trust fund from the proceeds of the coconut levy.

The DA said the trust fund will be disbursed in accordance with the CFIDP, which is also mandated to complete the coconut farmers registry. The Plan will be reviewed annually.

By virtue of Republic Act No. 11524, otherwise known as the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act, the PCA Board now chaired by Agriculture Secretary William Dar, and assisted by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez as vice-chair -- designated a corporate secretary and created a transition committee chaired by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to help provide overall direction to ensure a coherent and coordinated approach to pursue plans for the development of the country’s coconut industry.

Meanwhile, Dominguez underscored the allocation of the multi-billion coconut levy fund that will revitalize the coconut sector and leads to President Rodrigo Duterte’s vision for agricultural modernization and financial inclusion for all Filipinos.

"The PHP75-billion coconut levy fund will now directly benefit the country's 2.5 million small coconut farmers and their families, by way of a trust fund to be used for yielding more value-added coconut products and unleashing the full economic potentials of this industry," Dominguez, who previously served as Agriculture secretary during President Corazon Aquino's term, said.

Apart from these, Madrigal cited that they presented several items for the Board's approval including the proposed selection process for farmer-representatives within 30 days; completion of the coconut farmers registry within 90 days; and forging of a memorandum of agreement between the PCA Board and several government agencies that will receive coconut trust fund allocation to implement various programs as provided for under RA 11524.

“With the leadership and guidance of the newly reconstituted and strengthened PCA Board, we are confident that transformative reforms toward the modernization and industrialization of the coconut industry with direct benefits to our dear coconut farmers envisioned in RA 11524 will finally be a reality,” Madrigal said. (PNA