PCA assures consultation with coconut farmers

PHILIPPINE Coconut Authority (PCA) Administrator Benjamin Madrigal assured the coconut industry that it is conducting proper consultations with coconut farmers and groups for the finalization of guidelines on the creation of the PCA Board set to be released before the end of April.

“We are continuously consulting with the coconut farmer and farmer groups to ensure that their inputs are taken into account before the promulgation of the finalized guidelines for the nomination and screening process,” Madrigal said during a recent virtual consultation meeting with coconut farmer group leaders for the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan (CFIDP).

The CFIDP will be the basis of P75-billion fund utilization under Republic Act (RA) 11524, or the “Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act.”

The consultation meeting was participated in by leaders of several coconut farmer groups such as the Kilus Magniniyog, Confederation of Coconut Farmers Organizations of the Philippines, Federation of Free Farmers, and Magsasaka party-list, among others.

One of the significant proposals resulting from the meeting was the involvement of farmer group representatives in the crafting of supporting plans by the implementing government agencies such as on matters relating to crop insurance, social protection programs, and infrastructure development.

One of the recommendations raised by the farmer group leaders was for the PCA to tap coconut farmers’ organizations to assist in activities for the National Coconut Farmers and Registry System (NCFRS).

In response, Madrigal said that the PCA has since been collaborating with other national line agencies and coconut farmer organizations in information dissemination and in its conduct of NCFRS mass registrations. This includes the Department of Agriculture offices that are also currently working on the updating of the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture for farmers and fisherfolk, the availability of Department of Trade and Industry Negosyo Centers as NCFRS registration walk-in sites, and continued partnerships with local government units and provincial and regional agriculture and fishery councils.

Madrigal also reiterated that coconut farmers’ organizations are highly encouraged and most welcome to provide whatever assistance they may provide to PCA to ensure coconut farmers are registered under the NCFRS.

“We have also been processing the hiring and training of enumerators and encoders to augment the manpower in our field operations to expedite our NCFRS registration activities, while ensuring strict compliance to data privacy provisions,” the PCA chief added.

To complete the nine-man PCA Board, the six government representatives will be joined by three coconut farmer-leaders —representing Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao — who will be appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte from four nominees for each island group.

The official guidelines on the nomination and screening process for the farmer-representatives to the PCA Board is set to be released before the end of April.

Under RA 11524, a trust fund is created, initially amounting to P75 billion, from the various coconut levy funds and assets held by the Bureau of Treasury (BTr) and cash held by the United Coconut Planters Bank.

Under the law, the BTr will transfer P10 billion to the trust fund in the first year; P10 billion in the second year; P15 billion in the third year; P15 billion in the fourth year; and P25 billion during the fifth year.