Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) – June 2, 2019 – 12:00am
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Philippine Coconut Authority(PCA) are preparing the first shipment of coconuts to the US as they work to link organized farmers groups with buyers and consolidators in the US.
In a Facebook post, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said he is targeting to hold the country’s ceremonial first shipment of green coconut in July coinciding with his visit to sorghum and garlic production areas in the US.
The visit comes eight months after USDA Undersecretary for Agriculture Tom McKinney visited the Philippines and assured Piñol that the US will open its market for green coconuts from the Philippines.
In line with this, Piñol said the DA and PCA will link local organized farmer groups to coconut buyers and consolidators in the US.
“The PCA has been directed to advise its regional offices to identify farmers who grow the varieties for coco water and meat so that they could be included in the export program,” Piñol said.
The agriculture chief said the DA, through its Agriculture and Fisheries Machinery and Equipment (AFME) Loan Program, will provide the equipment needed by the farmers’ groups to prepare their coconut for export to the US market.
He emphasized that farmers will need dehusking and packing equipment to ensure that certain sanitary protocols of the US are followed.
The Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary Protocol of the United States Department of Agriculture requires that green coconuts must only have 25 percent of the husk to be allowed entry into the US.
“The DA is also ready to provide working capital for the farmers groups so they could buy their members’ produce,” Piñol added.
On Thursday, Philippine Agriculture Attaché to the United States Josyline Javelosa said the US is now allowing the entry of young coconuts from the Philippines.
“The US government has confirmed that young coconuts from the Philippines may now be exported through all ports in the USA,” Javelosa was quoted as saying in news reports.
At present, the Philippines has a total fo 3.5 million-hectares of coconut plantation, higher than the 216,000 hectares plantation of Thailand, which dominates the US market for green coconuts and other high value coconut products.
Apart from the US, China also earlier expressed interest in importing green and matured coconuts while Russia has opened its market for Philippine fruits, including mango and pineapple.