Senator Cynthia Villar pushed for the allocation of a bigger budget for intercropping, saying the 3.5 million coconut farmers will be able to earn more from this planting strategy.
Villar, chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Food, said a study shows that farmers earn only P50 a day from planting coconuts while intercropping with cacao and coffee can increase their income to as much as P350 a day.
“If the goal is to bring down the poverty index from 22% to 15% by 2022, we should implement programs that will increase the income of coconut farmers, who are among our country’s poorest,” the veteran legislator said.
The seasoned lawmaker made this statement during the Finance Subcommittee hearing on the proposed P1.4 billion budget of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) next year.
After listening to the presentation by PCA Administrator Romulo dela Rosa, the lady senator said the P13 million budget for the Coconut Intercropping Project which covers only the planting of bananas in 2,000 hectares in ARMM is not enough for coconut farmers to fully benefit from intercropping.
This prompted PCA officials to draw up an allocation of P200 million for intercropping with cacao and coffee in new areas.
Villar noted that the country has the competitive advantage for cacao and coffee production with over 2 million hectares of coconut farms that are ideal for intercropping. “With intercropping, we can hit two birds with one stone, so to speak. We can also help both the cacao and coffee farmers,” she said.
Villar said the intercropping of cacao is in line with the plan of the DA to increase local production of cacao to 100,000 metric tons (MT) from the current 10,000 MT, to adequately supply the average annual cacao consumption of 50,000 MT and the growing demand for cacao in international markets.