The Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Training Institute will showcase its latest research and development programs at the country’s international trade exhibition on agriculture, food and aquaculture.

Slated on Oct.3 at the World Trade Center,Agrilink, Foodlink and Aqualink  is supported by the DA and its allied agencies such as Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization, Bureau of Agricultural Research,DA-Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service,FIT Corea, the Philippine representative of Korea Agricultural Machinery Industry Cooperative, and 30 other major Philippine food and agribusiness organizations.

Luz Tapasok, officer-in-charge and diretor at ATI, said the agency ensures continuous capability-enhancement for coconut farmers through training programs and free seminars on coconut production and processing technologies.

ATI partners with other government agencies such as the Agricultural Credit Policy Council(ACPC) and the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) to inform farmers and interested individuals on opportunities they can avail of, such as the easy access credit program, food business ventures using buko meat and water, and value-adding activities aside from copra production, such as processing coco-based products like cocopeat fertilizer, handicrafts and natural dye.

There are around 25 million Filipinos estimated to be dependent on the sector, and nearly 3.5 million are engaged in coconut farming. .

Tapasok said despite being the second largest coconut producer in the world, the Philippine coconut sector needs to be further strengthened. Among the rural poor, coconut farmers reportedly have the highest poverty incidence at 60 percent whose income from the coconut products they sell, mainly copra, are dependent on middlemen. This is exacerbated by the adverse effects of climate change that the farmers contend with.

ATI supports coconut farmers by providing assistance for the development of their farms to become a learning site for agriculture, an extension service provider, or a school for practical agriculture.

Th├Ęse farms serve as venue for training programs, technology demonstrations, and other extension activities of the ATI. Among these farms are the Forest Wood Garden in San Pablo, Laguna; Buhian Diversified Farm in Initao, Misamis Oriental; and GerNil’s Farm in Koronadal City, South Cotabato.

They also process their coconut produce into coco syrup and coco sugar among others.

Published in Manila Bulletin