The economic fate of about one-third of Boholâ€™s over 1.2 million people awaits the coconut agro-industrial hub which Gov. Edgar Chatto is firm to realize under his star agenda for inclusive growth.
This is one development the local coconut industry, its workers, livelihood line and beneficiary sectors have long been dreaming of, said former Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Provincial Manager Emil Romero.
Now the regional president of the Federated Small Coconut Farmers Organizations (FSCFO), Romero commended Chatto for working hard and focused to materialize it.
The governor himself met on the plan with Sec. Francis Pangilinan of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization (OPAFSAM) and PCA Administrator Romulo Arancon, Jr. at the PCA Central Office in Quezon City on Thursday and Friday.
They led a two-day workshop on the implementation of the coconut agro-industrial hub project, which is World Bank-assisted thru the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) with Bohol as a pilot area.
Insights and inputs were so precious as all key participants underwent proper orientation, especially on the crucial preparation and development of business plans for preferred enterprises, Chatto said.
An indication of strong national support for the project, the governor reported by phone patch during his local media interaction on Friday that the PCA administrator is a Boholano himself from San Isidro, Dauis.
Romero estimated that some 400,000 Boholanos from coconut farmers and industry workers to traders and their households will benefit from the coconut multi-processing center.
Coconut-based enterprise proposals which are LGU-led, cooperative-led and social enterprise-led were presented during the workshop.
OPAFSAM Undersecretary for Operations Edel Guiza handled the action planning.
The project comes with buildings, technology and facilities for massive processing of value-added products, competitive marketing, and even training on sustainable coconut resource management.
Romero prayed that the province under Chatto, with full support from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan led by Vice Gov. Concepcion Lim, will hugely succeed in upgrading the industry and lives that depend on it.
The time has come for Boholano coconut farmers and producers to end the thought of their industry and livelihood for ages as mainly about copra, much less its exploitative price, he said.
Romero is confident that once put up and operational, the hub will empower the coconut farmers in Bohol to dictate the price of the fruit of their labor.
But because the processing center needs a daily big volume of raw materials, the former PCA-Bohol head encouraged this early the farmers to plant as many coconuts.
There have been talks about Romero possibly â€œre-hiredâ€ by the government to his post as PCA provincial manager since retiring over a decade ago.Â He is willing â€œif given the trust.â€
Like Chatto, Romero is a good friend of the PCA administrator. The PCA regional officer-in-charge, Jun Lago, is a Boholano, too.
If indeed given the chance to handle the PCA here again, Romero said he will encourage each municipal LGU to establish a communal coconut farm of five hectares or more, especially in idle lands.
The SCFO in the place will grow coconut trees and manage the farm to include seed production and supply of planting materials even to other province for additional earning.
Vast Yolanda-devastated areas like Leyte provinces still lack coconut planting materials, Romero said.
He encouraged the PCA to sustain its participatory coconut planting program in which farmers are given cash incentive for own seedlings they plant and grow.
The farmers are even provided seedlings yet still paid by the PCA for growing them in their own lands.
Romero estimated the coconut agro-industrial hub, which is proposed in the interior of the province, to consume at least 20,000 coconut fruits daily.
Chatto said being a balanced agro-industrial province is a glowing part of Bohol vision.
â€œThe project is bound to be a legacy of this administration (of Chatto) for which a great number of coconut farmers and their families now and in the future will always be grateful,â€ Romero said, more seriously. (Ven rebo Arigo)