Environmental group echo farmers’ call: ‘Protect PH coconut industry!’
Environmental Coalition Green Convergence held the 351st installment of the monthly Kamayan Para sa Kalikasan Forum about the state of the Philippine coconut industry and alternatives to help the coconut farmers on June 21, 2019 (Friday) at Kamayan Restaurant, EDSA, Mandaluyong City.
Quezon Province’s Samahan ng Magniniyog ng Burdeos President Edison Agarao stressed, “Among the challenges being faced by the coconut farmers are the lowering of coconut product price, market inaccessibility, stiff competition versus other oil products especially palm oil, inaccessibility to technology, and lack of government support.”
The negative state is further aggravated when President Rodrigo Duterte vetoed the Coco Levy Law, one of his campaign promises when he was just running for presidency.
“The campaign for the Coco Levy Bill has gone a long way,” said Atty. Atty. Toby Tañada, President of Earth Day Network, who is one of the major advocates of the policy, “but our farmers were fooled by false promises of this administration.”
Tañada called for a new bill that will immediately address low copra prices. He also encouraged, “Buying from farmers’ cooperatives and [profit] will be used for higher value coco products.”
He also said that the Coco Levy Fund campaign must not stop, and emphasized that “Coconut farmers should not only be the beneficiaries of the coco levy fund, they should likewise be participants in the growth and development of the coconut industry.”
Green Convergence Board Member and coconut farmer himself, Zaldy Bautista introduced intercropping as a way to increase the current income of coconut farmers.
It is a multiple cropping practice that involves growing two or more crops in proximity. Due to profit-oriented agriculture, the method has lost its relevance to farmers.
“Madalas na itong ginagawa noong unang panahon ng ating mga ninuno,subalit hindi lang ito masyadong napahalagahan ng ibang mga magsasaka (This has often been done by our ancestors ever since, but this is not given importance by some farmers),” he explained.
Dr. Angelina Galang, Green Convergence President emphasized that the fight for food security is intertwined with the environmental struggle. She mentioned that achieving the ideal future for our common home is achieving the ideal future of the poor.
Since March 1990, Kamayan Para Sa Kalikasan Forum has become an institutionalized platform that enables NGO and government representatives, the media, students, teachers, church groups, and concerned citizens to discuss pressing environmental issues in the country. This month’s forum is organized by Green Convergence and is supported by Kamayan Restaurant EDSA with the assistance of the Forest Foundation Philippines.
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