TACLOBAN CITY – The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) is eyeing to complete the registration of about 404,000 coconut farmers in Eastern Visayas by mid-June as the government braces for the utilization of coconut levy trust fund.
PCA regional manager Joel Pilapil said on Wednesday that Republic Act 11524 or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act mandated their office to complete the registration within three months after the effectivity of the new law on March 13, 2021.
“We have to update the National Coconut Farmer's Registry System (NCFRS) since this will be our basis in the utilization of coconut levy trust fund. We are calling farmers to register or update their information for them to avail assistance from the government,” Pilapil told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
The PCA regional office here has been carrying out different strategies to reach out to more farmers such as on-site mass registrations, walk-in registration, filling up forms in our office, and online registration.
“We even deployed our regional office staff to augment our field personnel doing the registration. We also asked the assistance of various national government agencies and local government units,” Pilapil added.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed into law on Feb. 26, 2021 the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act crafted to develop the coconut industry using recovered coco levy assets, which were declared state-owned by the Supreme Court (SC) less than 10 years ago.
The new law mandates the PCA to craft the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan that will set the directions and policies for the development and rehabilitation of the industry within 50 years.
The plan aims to increase farm productivity and farmers’ income, alleviate poverty, create social equity, rehabilitate, and at the same time modernize the coconut industry.
The plan also incorporates a national program intended for community-based enterprises, coconut farmers’ organizations, innovative research projects, as well as integrated processing of coconut and downstream products.
Under the law, a trust fund will be maintained and an initial allocation of PHP5 billion will be made available for the first year.
The fund is used exclusively for the benefit of the coconut farmers and the development of the coconut industry.
It is intended to finance shared facilities program, farm improvement, development of hybrid coconut seed farms and nurseries, empowerment of coconut farmer organizations and their cooperatives, scholarship program, health and medical program, credit provision, infrastructure development, training of farmers in farm schools, and other activities to help coconut farmers and develop the coconut industry to its full potential. (PNA)