In Luzon, dry spell brings hardship to coco farmers
LUCENA CITY—A national peasant group on Sunday appealed to the government to help the country’s coconut farmers who are expected to suffer more amid the El Niño dry spell.
“Coconut farmers expect reduced yield because of the expected prolonged heat from El Niño. This will further weaken their already low income due to the low price of copra,” Danny Carranza, secretary general of Kilusan Para sa Tunay na Repormang Agraryo at Katarungang Panlipunan (Katarungan) said in a statement.
Carranza asked the government to take the present situation of coconut farmers seriously and make the necessary intervention for farmers to bear the impact of El Niño.
“The low income due to the low price of copra has been there for years and this has caused untold misery for ordinary coconut farmers. This situation will not change due to global market conditions,” he stressed.
El Niño is a cyclical yet natural weather phenomenon occurring every two to seven years and characterized by the warming of the ocean’s surface waters, thereby affecting wind patterns.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration predicted that the strong El Niño may last until the end of February. However, the regular El Niño phenomenon will persist until May.
During El Niño in the Philippines, reduced rainfall and fewer cyclones adversely affected the agriculture sector, causing significant declines in crop production.
In the past, the dry spell particularly stressed coconut trees, diminishing their fruit-bearing capacity.
To assist farmers, Carranza reiterated their appeal to the government to fast-track the implementation of programs and services under the Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act or Republic Act No. 11524.
“There are more than enough funds in the coconut levy that can be used to promote the welfare of coconut farmers, especially in this time of El Niño,” he emphasized.
In an earlier interview, Carranza lamented that more than two years after the passage of RA 11524, small coconut farmers have yet to feel the benefits from the multibillion-peso coconut levy fund. RA 11524, which was meant to pave the way for efficient use of the more than P100 billion coco levy fund and reform the coconut sector, was signed by former President Rodrigo Duterte on Feb. 26, 2021.
On June 2, 2022, Duterte issued Executive Order No. 172, or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan, and tasked the Philippine Coconut Authority to manage and utilize the fund through various programs and projects.“The coconut farmers continue to wait for the benefit from the recovered coconut levy fund.
The fund is hoped and seen as a life game changer for them,” Carranza said. INQ