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The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) formally launched the Model Coconut Farm Project on May 7, 2019 in Brgy. Bamban, Gumaca, Quezon. This is a four (4)-hectare farm showcasing farming technologies and livelihood activities such as inter-cropping coconut with vegetables, cacao, sorghum, and other crops, and integration of livestock such as pig raising and beekeeping which will serve as a learning center and is expected to help coconut farmers in the area generate additional income.

About 1,000 farmers from Quezon province gathered to witness the activity graced by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” F. Piñol.

In his talk, Sec. Piñol discussed some of the Department’s reforms to develop farmers’ capacities from being merely “copra producers” to owners of community-level processing facilities and agri-entrepreneurs of coconut by-products, to wit: 1) keeping palm oil exports from Malaysia and Indonesia at a level that would not affect Philippine’s own coconut and palm oil industries; 2) applying coconut methyl ester in the bio-diesel from two (2) to five (5) percent to increase the use of copra to about 200,000 metric tons; 3) promoting buko juice as a health drink, making it as the Palarong Pambansa’s official sports drink to give coconut farmers captive market for their produce; and 4) banking on the release of P100-billion coco levy funds for the benefit of some 3.5-million coconut farmers.

Sec. Piñol also introduced some of the DA’s interventions like integration of high value crops (cacao, coffee, sorghum, abaca, and black pepper) with coconut; production loan easy access (PLEA); agriculture and fisheries machinery and equipment (AFME) loan; and solar-powered irrigation system (SPIS) project with the recommendation of another technology called “fertigation” – in which fertilizer is applied with the irrigation water.

With these, he committed the establishment of an SPIS to provide drip irrigation to the model farm in Gumaca and P15-million initial loan fund for 4th District of Quezon through Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) conduits.

4th District Representative Angelina DL. Tan and Gumaca Mayor Erwin P. Caralian extended their gratitude to the DA for the agency’s continued support of their food production and rural development programs.

Through Secretary Manny’s “Biyaheng Bukid,” which aims to reach out to people, some of the farmers who attended the launching got an opportunity to ask him questions. They also shared some of their concerns on irrigation, farm-to-market roads, marketing, coco levy fund, credit, and others. Towards the end of his message, he assured the farmers that the DA is doing its best for the country and reminded them to also do their part in helping the government achieve its agenda in improving the lives of the people.

Heads of other regional offices of DA and its attached agencies, provincial government and municipal agriculture office staff, and other stakeholders supported the event.

Under this project, all regions in the country with coconut areas will establish a model farm with an area of at least 20 hectares supported with inputs such as planting materials and fertilizers, and the provision of training and farm machinery, specifically tractor. • ARC