Solon seeks to promote and strengthen the Philippine “bunot”

A LADY lawmaker is strongly pushing to make the Philippine coco coir industry, locally known as “bunot” a priority program of the government.

Rep. Sharon Garin (Party-list, AAMBIS-Owa), author of House Bill 6667, said the coco coir industry can provide more job opportunities in the country-side and only needs to maximize the potentials of the industry and address the gaps.

Garin said it was projected that the Philippine export earnings for coco products can reach as much as US$6.53 million by 2016 from US$1.1 million in 2008 as base year (25% average annual growth rate).

“Locally known as “bunot,” coco coir is touted as the ‘golden fiber’ that gives hope and holds much promise for our coconut farmers especially with their coconut trees ageing,” Garin said.

Garin added that not only could it be used as an excellent planting medium additive that could fertilize an otherwise degraded soil, coco coir could also be used as insulation, carpet, car seat stuffing, mat, upholstery cushion, rope and cordage, fishing net, flooring material, filtration pads, mattress fiber, pot liner, brush, erosion control and many other uses waiting in the wings.

Garin said no less than President Benigno S. Aquino expressed enthusiasm about the use of coco coir during his State of the Nation Address last July 2012, stating that the country should not waste the opportunity of its high export demand.

In response to the growing demand for coconut coir, Garin said the government aims to invest in 2013 a total of P1.75 billion to further develop the coconut industry as well as provide countryside development and employment generation.

Under the measure to be known as the “Philippine Coco Coir Industry Development Act of 2012,” the Philippine Coco Coir Industry Development Council (PCCIDC) is created to formulate a ten-year Plan for Development which shall serve as guide to the formulation and implementation of plans, projects, programs and policies for the scientific propagation, processing, utilization and business development of coco coir as prescribed under the Philippine Coco Coir Industry Development Plan.

The PCCIDC, which is attached to the DTI, is directed to coordinate the activities of various agencies and instrumentalities who are members of the Council to ensure the accomplishment of the PCCIDP.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) are mandated to undertake research and development of efficient, effective and affordable technologies (process, machinery and equipment) for other high-value coco coir products and facilitate promotion and transfer of such technologies.

Likewise, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is directed to create a domestic demand for coco coir by requiring the use/application of coco nets in road and related infrastructure projects for erosion control.

Further, the DENR, Department of Agriculture (DA), DTI and the DOST with the help of local government units (LGUs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), state universities and colleges (SUCs), shall promote and provide adequate training on adapting technologies to individuals engaged in production, processing, marketing and distribution of coco coir.

Under the bill, the DTI is tasked to link-up with agribusiness cooperatives and organizations directly with consumers’ cooperatives and organizations and provide marketing outlets and assure relatively higher and stable prices of coco coir.

To ensure health and proper trading, the DTI and DOST shall establish and enforce standards in grading, sampling and inspection, tests and analysis, specifications, nomenclature, units of measurement, packaging, preservation, conservation or transportation of coco coir products and by-products.

A coco coir livelihood program shall be formulated and implemented by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to employ special groups and organizations of Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), marginalized sectors, the unemployed, and retrenched Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

The DA may give cash reward in recognition of the best coco coir farm or plantation in the country by giving coco coir farmers, producers, processors and exporters’ incentives and tax exemptions such as exemption from taxes and duties, value-added tax and duties in the importation of agricultural equipment and machinery and credit, insurance and financing services among others.

An initial amount of P30 million is allotted for the propagation, production, processing, marketing and distribution of the Philippine coco coir to be placed under the Philippine Coco Coir Development Fund (PCCDF).

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