1ST MINDANAO COCONUT SUMMIT TAKES CENTER STAGE IN COCO CAPITAL OF RP
8/3/2009by Neela G. Duallo
There could have been no other perfect venue for the convergence of hundreds of coconut industry stakeholders from Mindanao, than the municipality of Mati in the province of Davao Oriental, known as the “coconut capital of the Philippines.
Mati rightfully boasts of its 27 thousand hectares of land devoted to coconut, with 18 thousand farmers cultivating the vastness and the richness of the area that spells livelihood for thousand of people in the locality.
In the formal Opening of the 1st Mindanao Coconut Summit, Mayor Michelle Rabat takes pride in hosting the big event, along with the province of Davao Oriental.
“I take pride in claiming that we are the number one coconut producer in the country, not because Mati is the biggest producer of coconut, but because Mati is the capital town of the biggest coconut producing province and that is, Davao Oriental, and the coconut industry is the only industry in Mati,”she said.
Rabat furthered that over the years, the coconut industry has been taken for granted.
“That is why I am challenged with the holding of this momentous event. I owe a lot to the industry, or to the product because it is coconut that has brought me to school, and I want to give back the favor, and everybody should now be aware of the plight of the coconut industry,” she added.
The Mayor added that in 2004, the local government of Mati started the formulation of the coconut industry development plan.
“At present, there are four major initiatives that are being funded by the local government, to develop the agriculture sector. These are the cardava industry development program, the rubber industry development program, the livestock industry development program, and the coconut industry development program,” she disclosed.
In 2008, the coconut industry of Mati was established to institutionalize the desire of the local government to uplift the industry.
With these realities, Mayor Rabat also shared her excitement and optimism because there are new things on the go for Mati.
“For one, the coir industry of Mati goes globally. The European horticulture industry stakeholders are looking at Mati as a major source of garden peat in the next two years, and so is the municipality of San Isidro,” she explained.
She reiterated that undeniably, the importance of coconut is continuously emerging, but there was a time though, when the industry was dying, which resulted to cutting of trees by a lot of people.
“But I was fortunate that my father, Paking Rabat was stubborn enough and stood in his ground, fighting for his belief in coconut, as it is the tree of life,” she beamed with pride for his late father.
Mr. Louie Rabat, a Trustee of the Mindanao Business Council and one of the Rabat siblings, sees the Coconut Summit as an avenue to showcase the by-products of coconut.
"Even the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) says that there are many uses of coconut. That`s why we do not have to rely and we should not concentrate on copra. You see, when the price of copra went down, a lot of our coconut farmers are greatly affected. So we now see the need of intercropping," he explained.
The price of copra has been a cycle, as noticed by the stakeholders, as there are certain period when it zooms down, and there are also times of the year when coconut farmers enjoy a little comfort from the increase of the copra price.
By-products of coconut include the virgin coconut oil, coconut diesel oil, coco fiber, coco peat, desiccated coconut, among others.
Davao Oriental Governor Corazon Malanyaon also expressed the need to have more focus on the coconut industry.
“A lot has still to be done for the industry, since we have not yet explored the fullness of its potential. And though the coconut industry has been through the good and the bad times, but it is alive, supporting millions of families. We should work and try new strategies to pursue development of the industry ,” she pointed out.
Topics discussed in the Summit included Coconut-based food production, cocopeat-based bioorganic fertilizer production, and the prospect of coconut as bio diesel fuel, the State, Challenges, and Opportunities of the Mindanao Coconut Industry, Planting and Rehabilitation of Coconut, and Agriculture Competitiveness Enhancement Fund.
After every talk was an open forum, giving chance to the participants to express their views and insights on the topics discussed.
Leading the speakers for the forum were Mr. Jesus Arranza, President of the Coconut Industry Investment Fund (CIIF), and PCA Reg’l Director Lorito Orillaneda.
The 1st Mindanao Coconut Summit is made possible also through the strong coordination of the Philippine Coconut Authority, Davao Region Coconut Industry Cluster, Dept. of Trade and Industry, and the Department of Science and Technology.
Participants to the 1st Mindanao Coconut Summit came from Davao del Sur, Davao del Norte, Davao City, Agusan Sur, CARAGA Region, Lanao del Norte, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, Surigao Sur, Sultan Kudarat, Saranggani, Misamis Oriental, Zamboanga City, and from the host province Davao Oriental.
It was held on July 30-31, 2009 at the Function Hall of Honey`s Hotel and Restaurant, Matiao, Mati, Davao Oriental, and was made possible also through Mindanao Business Council with the strong coordination of the Philippine Coconut Authority, Davao Region Coconut Industry Cluster, Dept. of Trade and Industry, and the Department of Science and Technology.