By Alexander Villafania
QUEZON CITY, METRO MANIL A - President Benigno Aquino III said plans are underway to strengthen the coconut industry in the Philippines through a P1.75 billion investment in 2013.
The budget would be used to purchase new equipment for extracting coconut water and other usable parts of the coconut tree.
President Aquino mentioned the planned investment during his recent State of the Nation Address (SONA) address.
The announcement of the budget comes as the government reported that the coconut industry, one of the largest exports of raw materials, generated $1.95 billion for 2011, up from $1.6 billion in 2010. Consequently, export volume for all coconut-based products for that year was at 1.5 million metric tons.
The main areas that the P1.75 billion investment would be used on are production of coconut water and coco coir (fiber), as well as in improving production processes for coco sap sugar, virgin coconut oil, coco shell charcoal, among others.
Coco water is commonly consumed fresh and is considered an organic health drink due to having essential minerals such as potassium and magnesium. The United States is the largest market for coco water.
Coco coir is used to make strings, ropes, nets, and as raw fiber for textiles. Coir is also processed to be used for soil erosion prevention. Some of the countries where coco coir is exported are South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, and Australia.