PHL to focus on high-value coconut products to boost exports

MANILA — The country will focus on high-value coconut products to revitalize the coconut industry and boost exports.

“Even its production has declined, coconut is still a major agricultural export crop. We are looking at adding value in our coconut products,” newly appointed Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) administrator Avelino Andal told reporters on Monday.

Andal identified coconut sugar and buko juice as among the high-value and high-demand products generating high yielding returns, aside from traditional exports such copra or dried coconut meat, and coconut oil.

He is optimistic about the country’s potential for expansion of coconut sugar production, noting that Alabat town in Quezon is producing more than a metric ton of coconut sugar every month.

Andal also bared they are seriously considering creating production zones for buko juice all over the country.

“We have to concentrate on more high-value products. Coco sugar is a high value thing. (We can) supplement the income of farmers by introducing other fruit trees, one of which is cacao,” he added.

Andal further said China and Russia have expressed willingness to import more coconut products from the Philippines. The United States (US) is the country’s biggest export market.

“That is why, we would like to be responsible as possible to address the production. Of course we have to resurrect the industry and make it the prime industry of the agricultural sector,” he said.

For the last five years, coconut products generated export revenues of US$ 900 million every year.

“The demand in the export market is a bit soft. I think it’s a global trend,” said PCA deputy administrator Roel Rosales in an interview.

Rosales said coconut production has declined this year due to the El Nino phenomenon.

“We hope to arrest it by the second semester (of 2017) because we have projects to revive (the industry),” he said, citing the PCA’s fertilization and inter-cropping programs. Leslie Venzon/