THE PHILIPPINES COCONUT COPRA INDUSTRY
Early Beginnings of the Philippine Copra Industry
Ronald E. Dolan stated that, “Cocos nucifera is the scientific name of common coconuts. Cocos mean “spectre goblin” or “grinning face” and Nucifera means “bearing nuts”. This very tall palm tree is always an inviting symbol of the tropics. The coconut palm is widely distributed throughout Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Pacific Region. Its center of origin is still under debate. However, its name was recorded in Sanskrit in early history.” Moreover, Dolan added that, “The Philippine coconut industry traces its roots to the 17th century. Since the Spanish Colonial period, the industry had been a cheap source of oils for world trade. Under Spanish Colonial rule, selected villages were required to plant coconut trees, the purpose of which was to supply the galleon trade. After the declaration of Philippine independence government intervention in the industry was nowhere to be found until and during Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship. Common to all these government interventions was the exploitation of the coconut industry and its farmers. In fact, much of the even that transpired under Martial Rule had influenced the state of the coconut industry. A coconut monopoly that exists until today was set up with the use of taxes and levies.” According to the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA): “coconuts harvested in the Philippines are converted into copra, which is bought from coconut plantation owners by processors, such as the Philippine Manufacturing Corporation.” Jasper Guy Woodroof added: “Copra is the trade name for dried coconut meats or kernels and is one of the chief coconut products of trade, and ranks next to soybeans as a world source of oil.” “Historically, the Southern Tagalog and Bicol regions of Luzon and the Eastern Visayas were the centers of coconut production. In the 1980s, Western Mindanao and Southern Mindanao also became important coconut-growing regions.”
The Philippines is the world’s second largest producer of coconut products, after Indonesia. The PCA announced that, “Indeed, 1978 has been a most dynamic and propitious year for the Philippine coconut industry. For the year, total receipts from exports reached a shattering height of $908 million. This sum not only surpassed the 1974 total by as much as 38 per cent, but also previous year’s record of $775 million by 17 per cent. The income for 1978 accounts for almost one-third of Philippines foreign exchange earnings from all merchandise exports, reported at $2.745 billion and enough to pay for what the country spent for importation of crude and petroleum oils. Records also show that this is the highest percentage contribution of the industry to the country’s dollar receipts and payments from the export and import trade in, at least, ten years.” The agency also added that, “Philippine coconut production in 1978 is calculated at 2.49 million metric tons, copra basis. This shows a moderate increase of almost 2.0 per cent over the 1977 total of 2.44 million MT, but 9.3 per cent below the 1976 peak production of 2.74 million MT. However, the year’s output is well above all other yearly levels of production since 1969. Growth rate in production is calculated at 10 per cent annually. This is inspite of the wide and wild fluctuations which occur yearly considering the seasonal characteristics of the crop. The 1978 production reflects an almost 100 per cent gain compared to the total ten years back. Average annual production over the last ten years is computed at 1.97 million.” The PCA describe the Philippine coconut industry in the following manner: “The coconut industry in the Philippines-unlike other major producing countries like Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka-is export-oriented. Western Europe has been the major Philippine market for copra from 1969 to 1978. Aside from countries in Western Europe, Philippine copra is also being exported to other countries.”...
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