MANILA- The Philippine coconut industry remains one of the country's top exporters and a major contributor to the economy, Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Administrator Romulo dela Rosa said Tuesday.
Speaking to ANC, Dela Rosa said the industry remains a "billion dollar" earner with over 2.2 million coconut farmers nationwide despite issues hounding the industry such as a report by the American Heart Association (AHA), which says that the consumption of coconut oil may be unhealthy.
"We continue to provide as much support as we can given the limited budget we have to support the coconut farmers," Dela Rosa said.
Dela Rosa said in 2016 alone, coconut oil produced more than P1 billion in earnings and around $855 million in 2015.
Despite the positive income of the industry, coconut farmers however remain one of the poorest in the country.
To help farmers, Dela Rosa is calling for more investments in the country's manufacturing sector on the argument that it is closely linked to the agricultural sector as well.
"The prices of coconut (are) of course also a function of how much demand there is for it therefore what we would like to encourage in order to increase the demand for the coconut products is to increase investments into the manufacturing sector," he said.
Dela Rosa is also urging lawmakers to speed up the passage of a measure that seeks to create a trust fund from the P75-billion coconut levy fund.
"A good part of it immediately will be spent immediately on the social protection programs--health insurance, life insurance, scholarships for their family," he said.
The Philippines is the 2nd largest producer of coconuts in the world, with about 25 percent of the country's agricultural lands planted with coconuts.