Press Release
February 22, 2013

Cayetano: Don't Leave the Coconut Industry Behind

Senator Alan Cayetano today expressed concern over the plight of coconut farmers after a visit to Legazpi City in Bicol. "It is ironic that as the country moves forward, the coconut industry lags behind," Cayetano said.

Cayetano noted that while gross value added for agriculture grew by 2.9%, the gross value added for coconut (including copra) declined by 29.3% - the biggest decline among sectors in the agricultural industry. "It is such a waste that an industry that should be a driving force for economic growth is what is pulling the agricultural industry down," Cayetano said.

"I know that PNoy is now focusing on the growth of the rice industry. But I appeal to Agriculture Secretary Prospero Alcala to not leave the coconut industry behind," Cayetano suggested.

"I'm concerned because the slump in the coconut industry is already felt on the ground. Coconut farmers are now urging their children to take up nursing, tourism, and other marketable courses instead of entering into the agricultural industry - an appealing, high income industry if we could only develop it," Cayetano added.

Cayetano personally spoke with coconut farmers at the Cagsawa Ruins near the Mayon Volcano. He is currently on a tour of the country to listen to the concerns of various sectors - specifically relating to prices, wages, and employment.

Cayetano also pushed for a capital lending program to enable farmers from over 4,000 cooperatives acquire the necessary technology to improve their output. He also pushed for funding to allow them to distribute their products to the proper channels.

Cayetano also called on the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to help promote coconut products. "More than coco water, we should go on an all-out campaign on all things coconut: nata de coco, coco coir, pati mga bunot," Cayetano said. "We need to go on a campaign to go nuts for coconuts! So we can achieve the dream of making Bicol the Coconut Hub of Asia."

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