MANILA - At least 12 oil mills will start directly buying coconut from farmers instead of relying on middlemen, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said Thursday.
The recently signed deal will take effect before the end of November, Piñol said in a statement.
Under the deal, oil millers will "pay the farmers the price the traders are getting," he said.
The farm gate price of copra ranges between P8 and P12, while middlemen sell dried coconut kernels for P22 to 24 per kilo, he said.
The Department of Agriculture (DA) will organize the farmers into cooperatives that will receive hauling trucks and dryers, he said.
Coconut industry stakeholders will meet again next week, the agriculture chief said.
The development comes weeks after the DA said it was planning to lift the ban on exporting unprocessed coconut in a bid "to correct the depressed market price for copra."
Last week, the DA signed a deal with an American company to put up factories in Mindanao that would produce hollow blocks and roofs using coconut fiber.