MANILA – Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Kiko Pangilinan urged the government to boost efforts in investing in technology to maximize on the opportunities in coconut water.
“We’re throwing away around 2 billion liters of coco water a year. We have 329 million coconut trees, we have more coconut trees than we have people,” Pangilinan told ANC on Wednesday.
“You have to have the technology to be able to capture it. Parang gatas ‘yan eh, kapag hindi mo na-capture ng maaga, mapapanis,” he added.
He said that in the US, a liter of coconut water is valued at $1.
“We’re throwing away 2 billion liters. If we have the technology to we capture even a tenth of that, that is a lot of coco water money,” he said.
He noted that what the government should focus on is how to attract more investments to the agriculture sector and how to boost the income of farmers.
“The third largest producing region for coconuts was devastated, 16 million coconut trees. So where will you get the money? You need the money to address the damage and the income of your farmers and fisherfolk,” Pangilinan said.
"So talagang malaki ang pangangailangan ng bansa for agriculture investments, not only from government but even the private sector. In Thailand, they say the backbone of the nation is the farmer. In China, food security is national security,” he added.
The country’s coconut industry is also threatened by coconut scale insects, which have affected coconut trees in Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon and Basilan.
If not treated, the Philippine coconut industry will incur losses amounting to P33 billion.
Pangilinan also said 60 percent of labor is agriculture-related, so government has to mobilize its resources to help farmers.
“The average income is P23,000 a year and the farmers are the ones feeding the nation. Once they stop farming, we will start importing, and we are now in fact a net importer of agricultural products,” he said.
The Philippines is now a net importer of agricultural products to the tune of almost $2 billion, he added.