Historic decision to support 3,5 million coconut farmers
DateOctober 6, 2020
The proposed measure is aimed at letting poor coconut farmers benefit from taxes exacted from them decades ago, now worth around P76 billion in assets.
Under the bill “Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act,” the government is mandated to turn over 75 billion pesos, equivalent to 1,5 billion dollars, in the next five years to create a trust fund for coconut farmers in the country. Approximately 3.5 million coconut farmers from 68 coconut producing provinces, owning not more than five hectares who belong to the poorest sector in the country.
“The coconut farmers are the poorest in the country. They earn only about P1,500 a month. This fund which rightfully belongs to the coconut farmers, should be plowed back to them for their own direct benefit,” Sen. Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Committee on Agriculture, Food and Agrarian Reform and principal sponsor of the bill, said.
The Senate will now wait for the House of Representatives (HOR) version of the coconut levy bill to be passed. Sentor Villar expressed confidence that the enactment of the law will be swift as concerns that caused the veto of the former version of the bill were all addressed.
At its current state, the bill excludes farmer representatives from the trust fund management committee.
“We now need the congress to pass their version of the bill, and we need farmer representation to the Fund Management body” Jessica Soto said.
Fact: Coco Levy Trust Fund
P5B of the trust fund will be used upon enactment of the law for the ff. programs. In addition to the programs of the PCA which will be given a separate budget.
- 15% for planting and replanting of hybrid coconut seedlings and production of hybrid coconut seedlings by the Philippine Coconut Authority
- 5 percent for research and production of hybrid coconut seedlings by the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD);
- 8 percent for the training of coconut farmers and their families as listed in the coconut farmers registry in farm schools through Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and Agricultural Training Institute to be shared equally;
- 5 percent for research, marketing and promotion by the Bureau of Micro Small and Medium Enterprise Development under the Department of Trade and Industry;
- 10 percent to be shared equally for farm improvements through diversification and intercropping with livestock, dairy, poultry, coffee and cacao production by the National Dairy Authority and the Department of Agriculture; Native Animal Program; and High Value Crop Program to be divided equally;
- 10 percent for shared facilities for processing by the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PHilMech); to be given to cooperatives. If there’s no cooperative in the town, it will go to LGUs;
- 5 percent for organizing and empowering coconut farmer organizations and their cooperatives under the Cooperative Development Authority;
- 10 percent to be shared equally for the credit programs of the Development Bank of the Philippines and the Land Bank of the Philippines;
- 10 percent for infrastructure development to be implemented by the, Department of Public Works and Highways in coconut producing LGUs
- 8 percent for Scholarship programs for farmers and their families to be implemented by the Commission on Higher Education;
- 10 percent for health and medical programs for farmers and their families to be implemented by agency created by the Philippine Coconut Authority, for this purpose;
- 4 percent for crop insurance to be implemented by the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation;
Under the measure, the Philippine Coconut Authority Board has been reconstituted to compose the Secretaries of the Departments of Trade and Industry, Budget and Management Finance, and DOST and PCA, and three farmer-representatives from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.