Press Release
March 2, 2015

Villar assures coco farmers and farm workers of benefits

Senator Cynthia A. Villar, chairperson of the Senate Agriculture and Food Committee, has assured coconut farmers and farm workers of benefits from the trust fund under her proposed measure, Senate Bill 2126 or the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Act of 2015.

The bill seeks to establish a trust fund to pay for the implementation of the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan. It mandates the creation of the Coconut Farmers and Industry Fund (CFIF), a trust fund which shall be perpetually maintained for the development of the coconut industry for the ultimate benefit of coconut farmers and farm workers.

The salient point of Villar's bill focuses on the declaration of coconut levy as assets in the CFIF. The said trust fund "shall be used exclusively for the coconut industry.

"The coconut farmers, organizations and the coconut industry, in general, would benefit from this. That's the assurance I can give you," said Villar in her speech during the recent confederation of Coconut Farmers Organizations of the Philippines (ConFed)-Coconut Farmers National Conference at the Makati Palace Hotel.

Once enacted into law, different government departments and agencies like the National Economic and Development Authority or NEDA, Dept. of Agriculture, Dept. of Trade and Industry, among others, will put up a committee to create Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Plan.

She said representatives from the coconut industry will also participate in the drafting of plan. The plan shall set the directions and policies for the rehabilitation and development of the coconut industry.

In the formulation of the plan, the committee shall be guided by the following objectives: increased farm productivity and income of coconut farmers, establishment of coconut-based enterprises.

The plan shall include a national program for coconut productivity, including intercropping and livestock raising; community-based coconut enterprises, including integrated processing of coconut products and downstream products; coconut farmers organization and development; and social protection.

The social protection will directly benefit coconut farmers and farm workers, such as, but not limited to, medical and/or health and life insurance services, educational scholarships for deserving students coming from families of coconut farmers, or beneficiaries of the Coconut Levy Funds, in case these social protection programs are not funded by an appropriations law or any other special law, or where funding is insufficient.

"I am confident and positive that the 'Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Act of 2015' will carry out its goal, which is of obviously, helping coconut farmers and developing the coconut industry," said the senator.

The National Anti-Poverty Commission study indicated that among the rural poor, coconut farmers have the highest poverty incidence at 60%.

Coconut farmer's per capita income is P41/day and that 1.8 million of the three million beneficiaries of CCT (conditional cash transfer) are from coconut-producing towns.

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