DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The government said some 6,000 hectares of land claimed by an Ata Manobo chieftain here will be planted with about a million coconut trees starting this year.
Philippine Coconut Authority Board Member Roque Quimpan in a press conference on Monday, said the land is being claimed by Ata Manobo Datu Arthur Ali which has a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) in Paquibato district.
PCA said more coconut trees may be planted in other areas as soon as they are able to reach an agreement with other respective CADT holders.
“Initially, there is already an agreement with the CADT holder and I as the representative of the PCA. The IPs are also willing to [work],” Quimpan said.
Quimpan also said the coconut trees will be managed and owned by the indigenous people who own the land, the PCA being there only to provide the necessary equipment to get the farmers started.
“Dili sila angayan mo resist unya malipay man na sila kay ila man na, dili man na kuhaon sa PCA. So ug muresist sila nga dili, mutanom, adto na pud na sa laing lugar.”
(There is no reason for them to resist [the project], and they will be glad because [the coconut trees] will be theirs; it will not be taken away by the PCA. If they don’t like the project then it will be implemented somewhere else), Quimpan said.
Quimpan said the lands owned by the IPs are the most viable choice for coconut farming expansion because they are among the only lands that have not yet been converted into other cash crop plantations such as cacao, palm and pineapple.
Other CADT holders, specifically from Laak, Compostela Valley, have already signaled their intention to avail of the program, Quimpan said.
“Most often daghan ug gusto kay ang coconut, lazy farming man gud na basta muabot nag three to four years, unya fruiting season na, dili na na mamatay” (Most often, many opt into the coconut business because it is lazy farming. If the coconut tree reaches three to four years, and begins to bear fruit during the season, it will no longer die), he said.
In addition, the IP farmers will also be paid 50 pesos for each coconut tree planted.
The replanting effort comes as the country lost some 33 million coconut trees to Typhoons Pablo and Yolanda, while 1.4 million were destroyed by the ‘Cocolisap’ infestation, primarily in Basilan.
Quimpan said the PCA is targeting to plant at least seven million coconut trees annually for the next five years to compensate for the loss, as well as offset the cutting and losing rate of the industry.
The Philippines was the biggest exporter of coconut products in the world for many years, but has since been surpassed by Indonesia.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the country’s coconut trees produced some 3.77 million metric tons of nuts in October-December 2016, which is 5.2 percent lower than 2015’s production of 3.97 million metric tons. (davaotoday.com)