COCONUT PRODUCT. Copra, the dried meat or kernel of the coconut processed in a farm in Burauen, Leyte. The Philippine Coconut Authority is upbeat that higher copra prices will prevail until the end of this year. (PNA file photo)

PALO, Leyte – The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) is upbeat that higher copra prices will prevail until the end of this year, improving the income of nearly 400,000 families in the Eastern Visayas region.
Average farm gate price of copra, a major by-product of coconut, rose to PHP30 per kilogram in May from PHP17.68 in the same period last year, according to PCA’s price watch data. 
The current copra trading price is way better than the PHP11.36 per kilogram recorded two years ago.
PCA regional manager Joel Pilapil said the high demand for coconut from a Sorsogon-based processor has helped in increasing the price of copra, a raw material for the production of premium oils overseas.
“In many parts of Leyte and Southern Leyte, the whole nut buying has been established especially in farms within the national road. Many farmers don’t process coconut into copra anymore, thus, reducing the volume of copra,” Pilapil said in an interview last week.
The region’s major buyer of whole nuts is the Peter Paul Philippine Corp. for its operation of their Sorsogon plant. 
The firm has been processing whole nuts into desiccated coconut, virgin coconut oil, coconut water, coconut cream, and coconut milk for export to the United States. 
Higher price is also attributed to the rising demand of coconut oil in the global market as more consumers realize the nutritional value of the coco-based oil.
Copra is the dried meat or kernel of the coconut. Premium oil is extracted from copra. It also yields coconut cake after oil extraction, which is mainly used as feed for livestock.
The improving copra price has been benefiting about 400,00 coconut farmers and their families in the region. 
PCA estimated that 1.83 million people or nearly half of the 4.4 million population of the region are dependent on coconuts.
The region is the fifth top coconut-producing region in the country with an average copra production of 320,000 metric tons every year. (PNA)