2/15/2005 MANILA - The Philippine Department of Agriculture (DA) isprojecting an upswing in demand this year for coconut and its by-productsboth in the local and export market.
For the local market, the growing population and the relatively betterincome for Filipinos is pushing up local consumption while the renewedinterest for coconut and its by products triggers export market demand.
Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said that the Philippine CoconutAuthority (PCA) has estimated that coconut export will reach 1.82 millionmetric tons (MMT) this year, up by three per cent from 1.77 MMT posted in2004.
Aside from the increase in export demand, the coconut sector alsobenefited from higher price. As of the end of January, coconut oilcommands US$587 per MT, FOB (free on board) compared to last year,s priceof US$545 per MT.
Meanwhile, Europe price is US$642.50 per MT compared to last year'sUS$582.50 per MT.
For copra, Southern Tagalog, as price leader, pays P21.60 per kilogramhigher than the buying price of P19.20 per kg. last year. Husked nuts alsosell higher this year in the region at P5,650 (US$103) per MT as againstlast year's price of P 4,700 per MT.
"Price wise, the start of the year is favorable to coconut farmers, and weonly need to sustain the momentum," Yap said.
To maintain supply and meet the demand of the market, he said the DA iscontinuously implementing programs that will maximize nut production pertree, aside from intensifying research and development aimed to optimizecoconut by-product utilization.
Yap said as the bulk of coco export comes in the form of traditionalproducts like oil, copra meal dessicated coconut and oleochemical, thedepartment is also planning to shift to the development and marketing ofdownstream product like husk, shell, charcoal, coco water and othersoutside the nut like sap and wine aside from promoting intercropping thatwill utilize the arable spaces between the trees.
"This product stream will open the opportunity for enterprise developmentamong small farmers aside from generating more jobs," he noted.
The DA chief also stressed that the planned shift to the development andmarketing of downstream product specifically the intercropping andutilizing of spaces between coconut trees supports the department'sobjective of pursuing agribusiness development of two million hectares ofagriculture and fisheries areas and generate two million jobs.