Press Release
October 3, 2011


Senator Edgardo J. Angara called on Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Gregory L. Domingo to lead the creation of an innovation cluster within the Cabinet's economic cluster that will oversee the revival of the coconut industry, especially as the global demand for coco water continues to increase.

Angara, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, said that the coconut industry is perfect for an innovation cluster--a convergence of resources, skills, technology and funding of interrelated industries managed as a public private partnership (PPP).

"The key here is convergence," said Angara, also Chair of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology. "The cabinet must focus their concerted efforts on promising areas for growth, not have segmented interests in their industries."

He explained that, "The coconut industry today is half of what it was 25 years ago and yet it still the main source of income for around 20 million Filipinos. That's one-fifth of our country's population dependent on this sector."

The veteran legislator said the decline of the coconut industry began when research and development in the industry waned and eventually stopped.

"R&D has the highest rate of return on investment on all economic activities but we have neglected it. To revive the coconut industry, we must revive R&D too," Angara stressed.

He also emphasized the need to ensure quality in the development of coco water as a preferred substitute to energy drinks in Western markets.

Coconut-based products like the VCO, makapuno and nata de coco became so easy to produce that almost anyone who can did so in their own backyards. Without the appropriate monitoring and regulatory mechanisms in place, quality deteriorated, as well as the products' credibility to consumers.

In addition, Angara urged the Cabinet economic cluster to tap the multibillion-peso coco levy fund, collected during the Marcos regime and now the subject of several court cases.

"This is a whole lot of money sitting idle, tied up in legal technicalities which we could use for the revitalization of the coconut industry in the Philippines," he said.

On reviving the coconut industry, Angara stressed: "This is one occasion where we can prove that we can get our acts together for the country's growth and development."

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