EU market may revive PH’s ‘dying’ copra industry – DA

Marje Pelayo   •   March 11, 2019   •   2589

FILE PHOTO: A pile of matured coconuts (niyog). Copra is dried coconut meat from which oil is obtained. (OLIVER JUAN / Photoville International)

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) sees hope of reviving the country’s copra industry.

In a statement, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said the agency is eyeing a partnership with a Monaco-based Russian firm to bring Philippine copra to the European Union (EU) market.

“A Monaco-based Russian businessman, Igor Malyshkov, whose friends and associates own a chain of 15,000 supermarkets in Eastern Europe including the Russian Federation has helped us open this huge market,” Piñol said.

The Secretary, however, clarified that he wants to make sure first that “only those who are willing to help the coconut farmers will be included in this Eastern European Marketing deal.”

Secretary Piñol appealed to the coco mill owners and traders last year to retain the buying price of copra to P25 per kilogram.

Those who adhere to this buying price, according to Piñol, will not be made part of the planned supply deal.

“If your buying price is below P25, as we have earlier agreed, you will be excluded from this supply deal in Eastern Europe,” he said.

“As the demand in Eastern Europe grows, we will also expect you to increase your buying price,” he added.

Meanwhile, the plan received support from copra traders who immediately declared their respective buying prices to the agency.

According to Piñol, he will ask the marketing group of the DA to monitor the buying price of copra.

He hopes that the industry will regain its market with the increase in demand of coco oil in Eastern Europe.

The Philippines is the second largest copra producer in the world with more than 150 million tonnes produced annually.

But Piñol recently reported that the price of copra in the country depreciated due to the increase in supply of palm oil in the past three years. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Bernard Dadis)

18 countries issue joint statement supporting WHO; criticize US withdrawal

UNTV News   •   July 13, 2020

A total of 18 countries in Europe, the Caribbean, and South America convened a video conference and issued a joint statement on July 10, stating their strong support for the United Nations, especially the World Health Organization (WHO), and criticizing U.S. withdrawal from WHO.

The meeting was initiated by the European Union, France, and Spain. The EU countries participating in the meeting include Germany, Croatia, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, and Sweden, while the Latin American countries attending the conference are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and Dominica.

The 18 countries believed that WHO plays a key role in the global collaborative fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Cooperation and solidarity are at the core of responding to the pandemic.

The countries jointly support WHO in carrying out coordinated actions, conducting a fair, independent and comprehensive assessment and summarizing the experience of the international community in responding to the pandemic. (Reuters)

Agriculture Dept. wants bigger budget for 2021

Robie de Guzman   •   July 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture is proposing a P284.4 billion budget for 2021, more than thrice its current budget of P79.9 billion, to fund its programs.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar made the proposal during a teleconference with the House of Representatives’ Committee on Agriculture and Food on Wednesday.

Dar said the proposed budget would be used to bankroll its existing and new projects – P61.8 billion and P222 billion, respectively – for the year 2021.

“The agri-fishery sector, for the longest time, has been a ‘sleeping giant’ of the national economy, whose vast potentials remain largely untapped to achieve higher and sustainable growth,” Dar said.

“While the agriculture sector contributes about 10 percent (%) to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), it gets a measly share of total national appropriations, at three to five percent in the last 10 years,” he added.

The Agriculture chief said the sector will continue to perform poorly if it is not given the proper financial support.

“If we were to ensure that agriculture contributes its full potentials in the country’s economic recovery in the ‘new normal,’ we need to augment the DA budget,” Dar said.

If approved, the DA said the budget will be used to further increase the production of major commodities for next year. For the rice sector, the department proposes a budget allocation of P56 billion; P22.5 billion for fisheries; P13.75 billion for high-value crops; P11.25 billion for livestock; and P6.6 billion for corn.

The department also plans to spend P130 billion to bankroll locally-funded projects, construction of farm-to-market roads, implementation of national soil health, and young farmers’ programs; P7.15 billion as counterpart for foreign-assisted projects such as the Philippine Rural Development Project; P3 billion on market development services; and P960.4 million on organic agriculture.

“In all, the budget is intended to sustain, reboot, and grow the Philippine agriculture and fisheries sector, amid the challenges brought by the pandemic and into the ‘new normal’,” Dar said.

Quezon Province First District Representative Wilfrido Mark Enverga, who headed the committee, said at the hearing that Dar’s request is just a ‘wish list’ at the moment given the magnitude of the budget proposal.

EU sets ‘safe’ travel list, excluding United States

UNTV News   •   July 1, 2020

The European Union has excluded the United States from its initial “safe list” of countries from which the bloc will allow non-essential travel from Wednesday (July 1).

The 27-member bloc gave approval on Tuesday (June 30) to leisure or business travel from 14 countries beyond its borders, the Council of the EU, which represents EU governments, said in a statement.

The countries are Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

China has also been provisionally approved, although travel would only open up if Chinese authorities also allowed in EU visitors. Reciprocity is a condition of being on the list.

Russia, Brazil and Turkey, along with the United States, are among countries whose containment of the virus is considered worse than that of the EU average and so will have to wait at least two weeks. The bloc will carry out fortnightly reviews.

The move is aimed at supporting the EU travel industry and tourist destinations, particularly countries in southern Europe hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It acts as a recommendation to EU members, meaning they could potentially set restrictions on those entering from the 14 nations and will almost certainly not allow access to travelers from other countries. (Reuters)

(Production Hortense de Roffignac)

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