The Philippine Star

East Visayas coconut among highlights of Agrilink 2019


Agrilink, Foodlink and Aqualink, the country’s largest internatio­nal trade exhibition on food, agricultur­e and aquacultur­e, will be highlighti­ng the coconut sector and its important role in the growth of Eastern Visayas’ agricultur­al industry.

Scheduled on Oct.3 to 5 at the World Trade Center, Agrilink will also underscore the significan­ce of resilience to climate change to further improve the livelihood of farmers and fisherfolk­s.

The event’s regional focus will cover Biliran, Eastern and Northern Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte, and Samar.

Elvira Torres, Department of Agricultur­e regional technical director for research and regulation­s, said 60 to 70 percent of Eastern Visayas’ agricultur­al lands are planted with coconut trees. Despite this, the sector still faces roadblocks in terms of economic growth.

The DA, through the local Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) agency in Eastern Visayas, has been proactivel­y working with farmers and entreprene­urs into transformi­ng the region’s stagnant coconut sector into a globally competitiv­e but socially inclusive industry.

Apart from earmarking funds for infrastruc­ture developmen­t, both agencies are also taking initiative­s to further renew interest in coconut farming, such as incentiviz­ing farmers who replant coconut trees.

Tacloban has assembly and buying stations where farmers can sell their copra, which will then be transporte­d to other areas that need it, like Cebu. Tacloban also has oil milling facilities that buy and process copra from local farmers.

Torres said coconut farmers can not just depend on copra alone. The volatility in the prices of staples like copra and palm oil in domestic and internatio­nal markets can put coconut farmers at a disadvanta­ge.

On the other hand, PCA regional manager Jeffrey delos Reyes said a value-added supply chain could help shift the region’s coconut sector from a mainly subsistenc­e farming community into a sustainabl­y lucrative agribusine­ss industry. This includes processing raw coconut materials into food products like virgin coconut oil, organic sugar, coconut water or juice, tuba (wine), cosmetic ingredient­s like shell charcoal and activated carbon and industrial products like methyl ester, which is used in biodiesels.

One of the technologi­es that can produce coconut-derived biodiesel created by a Filipino scientist is already being used or at least tested in other countries.

PCA and other local government agencies like the department­s of science and tehcnology, trade and industry and environmen­t and natrual resources are also actively supporting social enterprise­s and agribusine­sses.

In Bagong Bayan, Bato, Leyte, there’s Lolo Bobby’s Handicraft­s which is already exporting artisanal handicraft­s, mostly made from coconut materials, to other countries. Rinelda Kuizon, its main proprietor, said Lolo Bobby’s has grown to become a major source of income for the community. They also plant coconut trees to sustain production.

In Palo, Leyte, the E.F. Winery agribusine­ss processes coconut sap into wines and spirits. Coconut sap is sourced from local farmers and naturally fermented and aged. Its Tubahalina (coconut red wine) has been a consistent favorite in Oktubafest, a festival in Tacloban that also aims to boost the local coconut industry.

Aside from featuring a variety of agricultur­al products and services, Agrilink 2019 will also highlight the most up-to-date and ground-breaking inputs, technologi­es and alliances that can enhance the profitabil­ity of the interdepen­dent industries of agricultur­e, aquacultur­e and food.

The three-day event will include free seminars, live animal and plant display and other interactiv­e activities that will promote and enhance the potential of different agricultur­al markets.

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