By Marie Tonette Marticio
PALO, Leyte – The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) is urging national agencies and local government units to serve buko (green coconut) juice in their events and seminars instead of soft drinks to help coconut farmers who have been suffering because of dropping copra prices.
PCA Eastern Visayas Manager Jeffrey De Los Reyes said serving buko juice it is one way of focusing attention on 3.5 million people in the region who are dependent on the coconut industry.
“If one-half of our population will drink buko everyday, it will be a big help to our farmers. With the help of LGUs, let’s make buko available even in subdivisions ” De Los Reyes said during the Summer Buko Fest held at the PCA regional office last Wednesday.
He said the price of copra has shrunk by 60 percent, from P38 to P12, since January last year.
He added that the crisis the industry is facing is an awakening to explore other opportunities apart from copra.
“We want to send the message to our farmers that there is more to copra, that is why we are creating opportunities to augment their income and not be copra dependent,” De lost Reyes said .
Ruby Santos, 34, a buko vendor, is looking forward to the PCA’s initiative, saying it could provide more income to support her three children.
Santos sells from 100 to 200 green coconuts daily at P25 each but it is not enough because she cannot raise a capital and only sells on consignment.
“Kung magkatotoo man ‘yung suporta na ibibigay sa amin, malaking tulong talaga,” she said.
Aside from fresh buko juice, PCA is also pushing for other value-added products such as coconut sugar, coconut wine (tuba), vinegar, coco coir and pastries.