President pushing overhaul of coco dev’t fund — PSAC

THE Private Sector Advisory Council’s (PSAC) agriculture group said that President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. is calling for an overhaul of the trust fund set up to develop the coconut industry ahead of a major effort to replace ageing coconut trees.

In a statement on Thursday, the PSAC said Mr. Marcos, in a meeting on Wednesday, proposed a comprehensive restructuring of the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan (CFIDP) as the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) embarks on a replanting effort.

Last year, the President ordered the PCA to draft a plan to rehabilitate the coconut industry, including the planting of 100 million coconut trees by 2028.

The rehabilitation plan aims to address the advanced age of the nut-bearing trees. The PCA is seeking to replant about 8.5 million trees this year.

“Efforts are underway to realign the CFIDP to ensure that the growth of the coconut industry is both sustainable and inclusive,” the PSAC said.

It said that the Department of Energy will move forward with it plans to increase the biodiesel blend to B5 (indicating 5% coconut oil content) in October.

“This policy aims to improve fuel efficiency while ensuring that the coconut supply for the food sector remains unaffected,” it added.

It said that Mr. Marcos has also endorsed PSAC’s recommendation to bridge sugar imports during the milling offseason and refine imported raw sugar.

“This strategy, along with a comprehensive review of the Sugarcane Industry Development Act (SIDA), aims to reallocate funds more effectively toward critical agricultural needs such as seed and irrigation,” the PSAC said.

SIDA, also known as Republic Act 10659, seeks to raise the competitiveness of the sugarcane industry, and improve the incomes of farmers and workers.

Meanwhile, Mr. Marcos has instructed the Solicitor General to seek clarification and reconsideration of the decision that revoked the biosecurity permits for Golden Rice and Bt Eggplant.

The meeting also discussed increasing funding for the salt industry and stricter measures against tobacco and vape smuggling.

“We are committed to the swift implementation of these strategies to ensure they bring substantial benefits to our agricultural community and bolster the nation’s economy,” Universal Robina Corp. President and Chief Executive Officer Irwin C. Lee said. — Adrian H. Halili