ADVANCES in science and technology will give the Philippine coconut industry a much needed boost as researchers are working to triple the annual average yield of the product.
In an exclusive interview, Dr. Patricio S. Faylon, executive director of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCARRD), said the scientific approach to planting would result in a yield of up to 145 nuts per year, higher than the 45 nuts average.
Faylon added that the project would be implemented in cooperation with the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA).
According to the PCA, the Philippines has over 324 million productive coconut trees planted in around 3.1 million hectares of land.
Also, 68 provinces have coconut plantations and 25 million Filipinos directly or directly depend on coconut for their livelihood, making the industry one of the top export earners of the country, with an average of $760 million per year.
Faylon expressed confidence that the new coconut varieties will help revive the coconut industry, which suffered huge losses lately because of infestations caused by the leaf beetle (brontispa) and coconut scale insect (aspidiotus destructor).
He said the new scientific approach being developed could help current coconut varieties produce a certain product with good quality.
“If the farmer wants copra [coconut meat]or coco sugar, then we have a variety for that,” Faylon added.
The Philippines has 100 coconut varieties, and using scientific approaches the PCARRD can identify which variety can yield a certain coconut product with good quality.
Among the factors that will be considered in the scientific approach are the soil where the coconut will be planted, and fertilization and water requirements. Coconut can be planted in a variety of soils like sand or clay.
PCARRD will put up model farms to demonstrate the proper scientific approaches to increasing yields of coconut trees.
Faylon said 11 provinces in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao are being eyed for the model farms.