Gov. Imee Marcos proposes rescue package for coco farmers battered by copra price slump
Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos proposed a three-pronged rescue package for farmers in the coconut industry, where at least 3.5 million farmers are suffering from the continuing slump in domestic price for copra. Some coconut farmers barely surviving as they are already buried deep in debt and others no longer harvesting their crops due to low prices. Gov. Marcos visited the copra-producing provinces in Eastern Visayas and the Caraga Region in recent weeks and spoke to some copra producers and coconut farmers who relayed to her their dire situation. “Our coconut industry continues to suffer because of the supply glut in the global market. What makes this worse is that the slump is happening during the peak of the harvest season, which is from June to October,” said Marcos, who is running for senator in next year's midterm polls. First, Marcos said the government must extend credit to the affected farmers in the coconut industry, which according to Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol is “virtually in the throes of death.” Second, Marcos said the government must crack the whip on copra smugglers who are bleeding local farmers dry. “We should unmask these smugglers and charge them before the proper courts. We should use the full might of the anti-smuggling law against the unscrupulous people who profit at the expense of our kababayans,” she said. Marcos also encouraged investors to support more integrated coconut-based manufacturing plants for value-added products such as coconut water, coconut milk, virgin coconut oil, and coconut flour. Lastly, Marcos said moving toward a 5 percent biodiesel blend (B5) from the current 2 percent will serve as a long-term solution to the problem of plummeting copra prices.