By Antonio Colina IV
DAVAO CITY — The Davao Region is planning to import whole coconuts from Indonesia to meet the growing demand of the local coconut processing industry here, an official of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-11 said.
DTI-11 regional director Maria Belenda Q. Ambi said local coconut processors here need to tap other sources since production in the region is no longer sufficient due to a tighter market competition with the growing number of coconut-based entrepreneurs here.
“We have a lot of processing establishments here who use coconut as raw material. Our supply is no longer enough in Davao Region to sustain their operations,” she said.
She said many of the coconut processors are also expanding their operations, most especially those engaged in the production of coconut oil which enjoys a high demand globally.
Ambi said they plan to take advantage of the Davao City-General Santos-Bitung, Indonesia sea route that was launched last April 30 which reduces the distance between Mindanao and Indonesia, which is currently the largest coconut producer in the world.
Even if local processors would import raw coconuts from Indonesia, Ambi said they can still yield higher incomes since coconut-based entrepreneurs here are into value-added production.
“It’s a win-win situation for us,” she said.
Based on data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Mindanao’s coconut product reached only 8.3 million metric tons (MT) in 2016.
This amount is broken down as follows: Davao Region had the highest production with 1.89 million MT, then 1.8 million MT in Northern Mindanao, 1.52 million MT in Zamboanga Peninsula, 1.3 million MT in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and 958,350 MT in South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City.
In Mindanao, Davao Region Industry Cluster Inc. (DRICI) chairperson Tata M. Fernandez said Mindanao faces a 3 million-metric ton coconut deficit each year that many of the local processors source out from Visayas to fill the supply gap.
Fernandez said the deficit is mainly caused by a stagnated production level of coconut while the demand is continuously growing between 3 percent and 5 percent a year.
He said if the deficit continues this will cripple the growth of the coconut industry.
Romeo L. Castañaga, provincial director of DTI-Davao del Norte who is also country head of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) SME working group, said shipping companies have already intensified their interest to deploy smaller shipping vessels to the newly-opened sea route.
According to the Preliminary Annual Report of DTI released on Tuesday, Indonesia is the Philippines’ no. 2 source of imports, next to China.