December 13, 2011
Senate Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture and Food Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan today says that the escrowed coco levy fund should be released immediately and benefit directly the farmers of the country’s beleaguered coconut industry.
“There is no debate that the coco levy funds were sourced from the blood, sweat, and tears of our coconut farmers yet they have not benefitted from the fruits of their labor. We must correct this injustice and ensure that the funds are made available in order to lift our coconut farmers from the bondage of poverty.”
During a hearing at the Senate, it was bared that the fund in escrow now amounts to P120 billion and not even its incurring P7.8 billion annual interest could be released to the farmers. Pangilinan says that the escrowed coco levy fund is needed for replanting that will improve the yield of coconuts and give the industry a much needed boost.
The Philippine Coconut Authority reports that while the country’s coconut industry contributes 59 percent to the world’s total export of coconut products, most of the trees are aging and dying, unable to produce quality nuts.
“The coconut industry is in danger of collapsing unless measures are undertaken to remedy and address these issues. It takes seven years for a coconut tree to grow and bear fruit. We must take action now.”
“More importantly, the funds need to be released immediately to their rightful recipients—the farmers. We must end decades of injustice by ensuring that the funds are plowed back to programs that will raise the incomes of our coconut farmers and improve their profitability.”