Designed to promote community-based coconut enterprises for a sustainable coconut industry and inclusive growth, the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization (OPAFSAM) under the leadershipof Secretary Francis N. Pangilinanand the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) spearheaded the "National InvestmentSummit for Coconut-based Farm Enterprises" on February 26, 2015 at the SGV Conference Hall, Asian Institute of Management (AIM) Conference Center Manila in Makati City.

 An initial of six (6) Agreements with 4 farmers' cooperatives [viz. KAAGAP Multi-Purpose Cooperative based in San Francisco, Agusan del Sur; Masisit-Dacal Livelihood Cooperative from Sanchez Mira, Cagayan; Capiz Small Coconut Farmers Marketing Cooperative(CASCOFAMCO) from Ivisan, Capiz; and Brooke's Point Coco Product Producers' Cooperative based in Brooke's Point, Palawan] and 2 local government units [to wit, Alabat, Quezon and Javier, Leyte] were entered into by PCA through its Administrator, Mr. Romulo N. Arancon, Jr.,before the coconut summit ended.

The formal commitment signing of Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between PCA, represented by its Administrator/CEO Romulo N. Arancon, Jr. (seated, 2nd from left) and farmers' cooperatives & LGUs culminated the one-day National Investment Summit for Coconut-Based Farm Enterprises. Former Secretary for Presidential Flagship Programs and Projects Ernesto M. Ordoñez (Chair, Alyansa Agrikultura), Prof. Edel C. Guiza, Undersecretary of OPAFSAM and Director Ed G. de la Torre of the PCA Governing Board acted as witnesses in the MOA signing rite (standing, L-R).

The signing of these Agreements is an integral part of PCA's investment drive for the advancement of the coconut industry. Alongside other regular industry development programs of the PCA, technical assistance, market links, capacity-building activities, and financial support, in the form of processing equipment and facilities, will be provided by the agency to partner-cooperatives and LGUs.

The ABS-CBN Foundation, Inc., Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) joined OPAFSAM and PCA in the conduct of the summit, which, according to OPAFSAM Secretary Kiko Pangilinan, intends to "develop proof-of-concept (POC) templates which can be applied in crafting appropriate coconut-based enterprises that would match with specific coconut farmers' organization or coconut-growing districts".

"We do need to intervene and do things differently in addressing the plight of our poor coconut farmers, so that we can expect substantial improvement in the industry." - Secretary Francis N. Pangilinan (OPAFSAM)

"We want to showcase here various agribusiness models and approaches, joint ventures, and public-private partnership (PPP) agreements to promote coconut-based enterprises in the countryside," PCA Administrator Romulo N. Arancon, Jr. shared when he welcomed the participants to the one-day summit.To increase their income, the coconut farmers must diversify their farming system, add value to their coconut products and think beyond copra, he added.

He also challenged the participants representing 58 private firms, 38 farmers' cooperatives, 27 social enterprise groups, NGOs, local chief executives, legislators and business executives to "join the quest of developing viable coconut-based enterprises in order to achieve our common goal of eradicating poverty among our Filipino coconut farmers".

"We recognize that to be competitive in the export market, community-based enterprises must meet the three (3) challenges of ensuring: quality and traceability; adequate volume; and reliability and consistency of supply. To achieve premium prices, organic and HACCP/ISO certifications would be desirable," Administrator Arancon underscored in his message.

So that more new avenues and opportunities for partnerships could be provided, parallel breakout sessions, for three key sectors, were conducted at the summit. The one for National and Local Government Units was facilitated by Mr. Ed G. dela Torre and Dr. Pons A. Batugal, both members of the PCA Governing Board. For the Business Sector, consisting of corporations engaged in processing and logistics, Ms. Lurina U.Gargarita, Executive Director of the Philippine Social Enterprise Network, acted as facilitator.UndersecretaryDanilo A. Antonio of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR) facilitated the session for the Social Enterprise Sector.

Senator Cynthia A. Villar, Chairperson, Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, assuring the 259 representatives from coconut farmers' cooperatives, including local chief executives, CEOs from local and foreign companies, and several officials from the government and business sectorswho participated in the "National Investment Summit for Coconut-based Farm Enterprises" of her commitment to support all programs that will truly serve the coconut industry.

To establish more coconut development programs, the PCA and OPAFSAM will serve as the 'broker and mediator' among the coconut farmers, the government, and the business sector. As well, the creation of a multisectoral task force, to follow through the Agreements already executed and the upcoming partnership agreements, was already initiated by the summit organizers.