With the theme "Establishing Community Enterprises Towards a Sustainable Coconut Industry", the 3rd National Coconut Farmers Conference was held on February 26 (Wednesday) at the Conference Hall of the National Irrigation Administration, NIA Road, EDSA in Quezon City. The conference was organized by the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization (OPAFSAM), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and the Coconut Industry Reform Movement, Inc. (COIR).
Secretary Francis N. Pangilinan, who heads the OPAFSAM, stressed in his keynote speech that, "increase in income and better-quality living status of the coconut farmers are the primary objectives of the various government initiatives intended for the development of the coconut industry".
More than 200 farmer-leaders from 50 small coconut farmers organizations (SCFOs), farmers' cooperatives, and federations of coconut farmers in the country, as well as other industry stakeholders participated in the 3rd National Coconut Farmers Conference organized by OPAFSAM, PCA and COIR, Inc. on February 26, 2015.
When inquired about the Executive Order (EO) for the utilization of about 3 billion pesos in interest income from the coco levy fund (CLF), the secretary told the farmer-participants from the KILUS Magniniyog, a national alliance of nine (9) national farmers' federations, "it [EO] is now with the office of the Executive Secretary and will be signed by the President anytime soon". The EO shall ensure a judicious, efficient and transparent utilization of the interest income from the CLF, he explained.
"This national conference aims to strengthen the partnership between the small coco farmers' organizations (SCFOs) and the PCA to broaden effective and efficient delivery of PCA's programs and services," PCA Administrator Romulo N. Arancon, Jr. elaborated when he welcomed the guests and participants. "In fact, officials of the PCA Central Office, together with the Regional and Center Managers, conducted a review and assessment of our existing projects and programs to make sure of a holistic and sustainable development of the coconut industry," stressed the Administrator.
"We ensure that the key stakeholders, the coconut farmers, will reap the benefits from the development in the industry. PCA strives to achieve inclusive growth through community empowerment and by strengthening collaboration among stakeholders for synergy in action," Administrator Arancon emphasizes in his message during the 3rd National Coconut Farmers Conference.
OPAFSAM Undersecretary for Operations, Prof. Edel Guiza, presented the overview and rationale of the conference. In her presentation, she eloquently explained the significant links to integrated coconut industry and coco levy roadmaps.
The conference, which was attended by around 200 farmer-leaders from 50 small coconut farmers organizations (SCFOs), farmers' cooperatives, and federations of coconut farmers in the country, as well as other industry stakeholders, showcased the significance of manufacturing coconut-based food and non-food products beyond copra production and the establishment of community-based enterprises.
"The EO shall ensure a judicious, efficient and transparent utilization of the interest income from the coco levy fund," says Secretary Francis 'Kiko' Panglinan (standing with microphone) to Fr. Jojo (facing Sec. Kiko), a farmer leader from Mindanao. Also in photoare the stalwarts of the coconut industry development (seated, L-R) Ms. Jessica Cantos (chief of staff of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) Secretary Joel M. Rocamora), former Senator Wigberto 'Ka Bobby' Tanada, Atty. Oscar 'Ka Oca' Santos (Chairman Emeritus of the Coconut Industry Reform Movement, Inc [COIR]), Usec. Edel Guiza of OPAFSAM, and PCA Administrator Romulo N. Arancon, Jr.
Success stories from several farmers' cooperatives and LGU-initiated/supported undertakings were presented. On his part, Mayor Sandy M. Javier, Jr. from the town of Javier in Leyte discussed the crucial role of LGUs in establishing community enterprises.
For the two former legislators and firm advocates of the direct utilization of the coco levy fund 'for the benefit of the coconut farmers', Atty. Oscar 'Ka Oca' Santos, the Chairman Emeritus of COIR, Inc., and Atty. Wigberto 'Ka Bobby' Tanada, "the coconut farmers must finally get the justice and benefits that they deserve from the coco levy fund."
Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala led the Recognition Rites for the KM 71. In recognizing the feat of the 71 KILUS Magniniyog members, who walked from Davao to Malacanan for 71 days in November, the secretary said that the 'march' fairly sway the Supreme Court's early issuance of the entry of judgment on the coco levy issue.
In his presentation "Matching PCA Programs with Priority Needs and Moving Forward Together", Administrator Arancon elucidated that, "the present coconut productivity enhancement programs of PCA (viz. Accelerated Coconut Planting and Replanting Project [ACPRP], Coconut Fertilization Project [CFP), KAANIB Intercropping/Livestock Raising and Coco-based Enterprise Development Project) complement the strategic themes of our Coconut Industry Roadmap".
"Undeniably, this conference proved that the farmer sector and the PCA-OPAFSAM are in unison that the establishment of integrated community-based coconut enterprises should redound to the socioeconomic status of the impoverished coconut farmers through increased farm productivity, value adding of coconut products and higher income for the farming family," Mr. Arancon said.