By Ali Macabalang
COTABATO CITY – Fresh coconut juice will be the “official energy” drink in the upcoming Davao City-hosted 2019 Palarong Pambansa in support of intensified efforts to help Filipino coconut farmers surmount odds caused by sharp decline in copra prices, according to Agriculture Sec. Manny Piñol.
In his Facebook post on Sunday, Piñol said coconut farmer-leader Laureano Callao, Jr. has concluded talks with the Palarong Pambansa organizing committee for the launching of the “Buko Vida Kiosk” on April 29 at the University of the Philippines (UP) Mindanao Campus in Mintal District, Davao City.
In support of coconut farmers’ efforts to introduce coconut water as the official energy drink, Piñol said, his agency will be “extending a loan fund to be used in buying fresh young coconuts from farmers.”
The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) have embarked on promoting fresh buko water or juice as a health drink and food and as part of the program to provide additional income for the country’s millions of coconut farmers.
With low prices of copra fluctuating between P13 and P15 per kilo and an oversupply of copra locally, farmers have complained of very dismal income from their industry. Some plantation owners in Mindanao have even resorted to converting their coconut trees into lumbers just to gain partial relief, according to PCA field reports.
Piñol said the DA has initiated the opening of markets in the eastern European Union for coconut products, and is promoting the consumption of “buko” locally to help ease the oversupply.
He said all DA and PCA offices are now serving coconut water in their meetings and gatherings, even as officials of both agencies launched the enabling “Summer Buko Fest” in Metro Manila last February.
The agriculture chief asserted that use of buko juice will not only benefit coconut farmers but also the consumers.
Citing health experts’ findings, Piñol said coconut water contains nutrient and medicinal elements with antioxidant properties and other natural components helpful in preventing diabetics, kidney stones, high blood pressure, and fatigues caused by prolonged physical works.