Coco farmers rejoice over 'incentives'
By Ninfa B Quirante
Catbalogan City (November 27) -- After almost a year of hopeful waiting, some 103 coconut farmers in the island town of Zumarraga, Samar received their incentives for planting coconut trees.
In a simple distribution rites towards noon yesterday, coconut farmers finally received their checks ranging from P750-P7,000.
The checks were personally delivered by Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Regional 08 Director Edilberto V. Nierva with PCA-Samar Emi Acasio and in-charge Laureano Verdeflor.
Coco farmers were promised an incentive of P5.00 per coconut to be placed in their own nursery for planting.
These were inspected by the likes of Verdeflor and Acasio for registration to avail of the incentive.
Late last year, this program was launched to improve production, said Nierva.
The program is called Participatory Coconut Planting Program (PCPP).
Farmers in Basey, Samar earlier complained that PCA authorities neglected their promise to 'pay' farmers who joined the program.
Nierva explained that it took a while to download funding from the Coconut Industry Investment Fund (CIIF) besides monitoring was doubly difficult for lack of manpower.
Besides, Nierva said the amount was not a payment, but an incentive because the nuts were not taken away from them but remained with the farmers for planting.
The farmers still will reap its fruits in time, Nierva added.
Mayor Neil Edwin Figueroa of Zumarraga in his message urged the farmers to plant more not only coconut but other fruit trees to green the island.
Zumarraga from a profile boosts of 552 hectares of coconut area.
Lito Bello, 69 a coconut farmer and a beneficiary showed his plantation on top of a hill. He added that his coconuts are meatier and heavier because the 'salt' around the island makes them fertile.
The Philippines is the world's biggest supplier of coconut oil, exporting 80 percent of its output.
Despite the challenges that face the coconut industry, farmers still choose to plant coconut more than any other tree, if there is an incentive, it is just a bonus, with or without it, they will plant coconut as passed down from the early Samarnons, said Bello. (PIA-Samar) [top]