With the opening of the American market to green coconuts from the Philippines, the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) will now link up organised farmers groups with buyers and consolidators in the US.
The PCA has been directed to advise its regional offices to identify farmers who grow the varieties for coco water and meat so that they could be included in the export program.
The DA, initially through its Agriculture and Fisheries Machinery and Equipment (AFME) Loan Program, will provide the equipment needed by the farmers’ groups to prepare their Philippine coconut for export to the US market.
The Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary Protocol of the United States Department of Agriculture requires that green coconuts must only have 25% of the husk to be allowed entry into the US.
This means that farmers need dehusking and packing equipment to ensure that the requirements are satisfied.
The DA is also ready to provide working capital for the farmers groups so they could buy their members’ produce.
The DA plans to hold its ceremonial first shipment of the Green Coconut to the US in July when a delegation to be led by the Agriculture Secretary will visit the Sorghum and Garlic Production areas of America.
The visit comes eight months after USDA Undersecretary for Agriculture Tom McKinney visited the Philippines and assured the DA Secretary that the US will open its market for green coconuts from the Philippines.
The US market for green coconuts and other high value coconut products is now dominated by Thailand which only has a total of 216,000-hectares planted to coconut compared to the Philippines 3.5-million hectares.
The Philippine Government now, under President Rody Duterte, has embarked on an aggressive campaign to find markets for Philippine agricultural and fisheries products.
Earlier, China also expressed interest in importing Green and Matured Coconuts while Russia has opened its market for Philippine fruits, including mango and pineapple.
Report from: Manny Piñol