Recognizing the importance of a body to oversee the areas of concern, and the developments within the country’s coconut industry, the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF) convened key stakeholders from various local coconut industry organizations and officials from the national government agencies, such as the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and Board of Investments (BOI), for a meeting towards organizing the National Sectoral and Strategic Concerns Committees- Committee on Coconut on February 1, 2019 at Apacible Conference Room A in Quezon City.
In his opening remarks, Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for Policy and Planning Segfredo Serrano noted the value of the Committee, especially when it comes to overseeing the policy directions for the coconut industry set by the government thru the DA and PCA.
He also urged the coconut farmers and growers in attendance, that the Committee may hold frequent meetings in order to address pressing issues surrounding the local coconut sector.
“Nais ko sabihin na sa pagorganisa ng Komite, ay magkaroon ng mas madalas na pagpupulong dahil marami po tayong urgent business, agarang aksyon ang kinakailangan natin para itulak ang mga ahensiya ng gobyerno tulad ng PCA at DA, at ang mga ito ay dapat rin maaksyunan ng ating Kalihim,” said Undersecretary Serrano.
On behalf of PCA, OIC-Administrator Glenn Santos expressed the agency’s solid support for the creation of the Committee. “Buo po ang binibigay naming suporta na magkaroon ng Committee on Coconut, ng isang committee para magkaroon ng palitan ng pananaw, pagbibigay ng impormasyon, at marinig ang mga problema kung saan tatalakayin natin ang mga solusyon,” shared OIC-Administrator Santos.
With PCAF Committee on Food Staples Vice-Chairperson Romeo Royandoyan acting as interim chair, the Committee discussed updates and developments on various matters concerning the industry including the status of two essential legislations which are the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Act and the Strengthened Philippine Coconut Authority Law.
Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) Undersecretary Antonio Gallardo suggested to look for champions in the House of Representatives and Senate of the Philippines who will help lobby the amendment of these documents during the next Congress given that these are already pending in the Office of the President for signing into law.
“Kailangan meron tayong champion sa House and Senate na kikilos. There are many issues. There should be a sense of urgency,” noted Undersecretary Gallardo.
Also deliberated were the issue of palm oil production, its effect on the sector, as well as the industry roadmap in which it was suggested that a national conference should take place in order to consolidate all inputs from regional and provincial coconut farmers with regard to the interest of the commodity and its stakeholders.
Aside from tackling these various areas of concern, officials from PCAF’s Planning, Monitoring and Knowledge Management Division and Partnership Development Division (PMKMD and PDD) also oriented the attendees on the agency’s mandate and structure, as well as the requirements for membership in the Committee on Coconut and the corresponding terms and reference during the said organizational meeting.
Gaining significant ground from this activity, Interim Chair Royandoyan noted that PCAF and PCA have both committed to hold another committee meeting upon signing of the Philippine Coconut Industry Roadmap. Agenda in the said meeting include, the proposed design of how the coco levy fund should be handled especially at the village level, identification of the possible representatives and alternates from coconut farmer organizations to the Committee on Coconut and arrangement for the proposed training of coconut farmers with the United Coconut Planters Bank-Coconut Industry Investment Fund (UCPB-CIIF) Foundation. – AE