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Coco Levy Act To Benefit 3.5M Filipino Farmers And Spur The Development Of Coconut Industry

Coco Levy Act To Benefit 3.5M Filipino Farmers And Spur The Development Of Coconut Industry
Senator Cynthia Villar and PCA Administrator Benjamin Madrigal planting coconut and cacao trees in the Villar SIPAG Farm School to teach farmers intercropping.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing of the Coco Levy Actwould benefit the country’s 3.5 million coconut farmers from 68 coconut-producing provinces, who own at most five hectares for the last 10 years, said Sen. Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed into law Friday (Feb. 26, 2021) a legislation creating a trust fund for the country’s coconut industry and its workers. PCOO.GOV.PH

The law seeks to create a trust fund for these farmers through the selling of assets procured through the coco levy fund.

“The coconut farmers are the poorest in the country. They earn only about P1,500 a month. This fund, which rightfully belongs to the coconut farmers, should be plowed back to them for their own direct benefit,” she added.

Villar, principal sponsor of Senate Bill No. 1396 or the “Coconut Farmers and Industry Trust Fund Act,” stressed that this law is in consonance with the declared policy of the state to consolidate the benefits due to coconut farmers and to expedite their delivery.

She hopes this law will finally resolve the decades-old issue surrounding the coco levy fund. She said it will carry out its two-pronged goal—to help coconut farmers and develop the coconut industry.

Senate Bill 1396, which was adopted by the House of Representative government, is mandated to turn over P75 billion cash of the coconut levy assets in the next five years to create a trust fund for our coconut farmers. 

Immediately after the passage of the bill into law, Villar said the Bureau of Treasury (BTr) shall transfer P10 billion to the trust fund and for the succeeding years, according to the following schedule: P10 billion in the second year;

P15 billion, third year; P15 billion, fourth year; and P25 billion, fifth year.

Furthermore, she said the trust fund will be augmented with all proceeds of privatization or disposition of the Coconut Levy Assets remitted directly by the BTr and the Privatization and Management Office.

Senator Villar said P5 billion of the trust fund will be used upon enactment of the law for the following programs, in addition to the programs of the Philippine Coconut Authority which will be given a separate budget. The minimum disbursement per year will be P5 billion but it can be bigger.

LIVELIHOOD AND INCREASED INCOME – 54%

  • 15 percent for planting and replanting of hybrid coconut seedlings and production of hybrid coconut seedlings by the Philippine Coconut Authority;
  • Five percent for research and production of hybrid coconut seedlings by the Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST – PCAARRD);
  • 10 percent to be shared equally for farm improvements through diversification and intercropping with livestock, dairy, poultry, coffee and cacao production by the National Dairy Authority and the Department of Agriculture (DA); Native Animal Program; and High Value Crop Program to be divided equally;
  • 10 percent for shared facilities for processing by the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech); to be given to cooperatives. If there’s no cooperative in the town, it will go to LGUs;
  • 5 percent for organizing and empowering coconut farmer organizations and their cooperatives under the Cooperative Development Authority;
  • 5 percent for research, marketing and promotion by the Bureau of Micro Small and Medium Enterprise Development under the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI); and
  • 5 percent for crop insurance to be implemented by the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation.

CREDIT – 10%

  • 10 percent to be shared equally for the credit programs of the Development Bank of the Philippines and the Land Bank of the Philippines.

INFRASTRUCTURE – 10%

  • 10 percent for infrastructure development to be implemented by the Department of Public Works and Highways in coconut-producing LGUs.

EDUCATION – 16%

  • 8 percent for scholarship programs for farmers and their families to be implemented by the Commission on Higher Education; and
  • 8 percent for the training of coconut farmers and their families as listed in the coconut farmers registry in farm schools through Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and Agricultural Training Institute to be shared equally.

HEALTH – 10%

  • 10 percent for health and medical programs for farmers and their families to be implemented by agency created by the Philippine Coconut Authority.

Under the measure, the Philippine Coconut Authority Board (PCA) has been reconstituted and strengthened to ensure the participation of coconut farmers in the crafting and implementation of the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan. 

The PCA Board shall be composed of the secretaries of the DA (as chairperson), DTI, Budget and Management, Finance, and DOST and PCA, and three farmer-representatives from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.