MANILA — Agitated by reports of coconut traders with cheap buying price for farmers’ produce, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said he is bent on excluding these traders from huge European deals.
In a statement sent to the Philippine News Agency Wednesday, Piñol has decided to rule out those who did not heed his appeal to increase the buying price of copra.
“I will make sure that only those who are willing to help the coconut farmers will be included in this Eastern European Marketing deal,” Piñol said.
In 2018, the buying price of copra, the main source of livelihood of the country’s coconut farmers, dropped to PHP15 per kilo, which is significantly lower than the PHP40 per kilo recorded in previous years.
While domestic copra prices declined steeply in 2018 due to oversupply, the glut in vegetable oil in the international market also pulled down the price of coconut oil.
“I met with many of you and appealed for help by setting an agreed buying price of at least PHP25 per kilo,” he recalled. “Some of you heeded my appeal to increase your buying price but most of you did not. Not even when the farmers were already crying that they could not even earn enough to pay for the workers did you listen to my plea.”
On Monday, the agriculture secretary closed a deal with Monaco-based Russian businessman, Igor Malyshkov, whose friends and associates owning a chain of 15,000 supermarkets in Eastern Europe including the Russian Federation helped the country open this huge market.
“I will persuade Malyshkov and his group to exclude the greedy and the heartless among you, especially those who exploited the farmers,” he said.
By next week, the marketing group of the Department of Agriculture will monitor the traders’ buying price for copra and whole coconuts as well as enlist those who did not abide by Piñol’s call to raise the price to at least PHP25 per kilo.
“If your buying price is below PHP25, as we have earlier agreed, you will be excluded from this supply deal in Eastern Europe,” he added.
Malyshkov, who represents Austria-registered Arteks Generation, called on Piñol on Monday to signify his group’s interest in importing coconut products from the Philippines, including palm oil and pineapple, to thousands of outlets all over Eastern Europe.
The businessman said the interest to import coconuts from the Philippines is due to the huge demand in the Eastern European market where consumers are becoming more health conscious.
“As the demand rises, we will also expect you to increase your buying price. I believe this is just fair. You have a few days to adjust your buying price. This is just a friendly reminder,” Piñol said. Christine Cudis/PNA-northboundasia.com