Catanauan, Quezon – Following the preliminary activities such as foresight scanning, planning workshop, and project proposal development, the team from the Southeast Asian Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) headed by Dr. Pedcris M. Orencio, Program Head, joined by Ms. Anna Gale C. Vallez, Program Specialist; Ms. Ruth Jazrel M. Bandong, Project Associate; and Ms. Blanquita R. Pantoja, Technical Coordinator; all of the Research and Thought Leadership Department (RTLD) visited the site in Catanauan, Quezon to conduct the initial scoping activity for the baseline assessment for the project titled, Development of Coconut Industry Growth Areas in the Province of Quezon on 28-29 April 2022. They were accompanied by the representatives from the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) of Quezon and the Municipal Agricultural Office (MAO) of Catanauan. The scoping visit aimed to contribute to the preparation of the baseline survey and the rapid value chain analysis (VCA) of the project.
Ms. Pantoja facilitated the interview with the four farmer-organizations namely San Antonio Pala Virgin Coconut Oil Producers Association, San Antonio Pala Lambanog Producers Association, San Antonio Pala Cocosap Sugar Producers Association, and San Antonio Pala Buko Juice Producers Association. She asked about the organization’s history, their origin and establishment, product processing, marketing, training needs, and group dynamics. The interview revealed the farmers’ perception about the coconut industry, prospects and problems, forward and backward linkages of farmers, farmers’ financial standing, and stakeholders involved and the roles they play. The information gathered here will determine how the primary data gathering will be conducted for the baseline assessment and value chain study.
Further to the visit, the SEARCA team joined the PG Quezon, OPA Quezon, MAO Catanauan, Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), and Quezon 2nd District Engineering Office to inspect the Quezon
The team had a courtesy call and project orientation with Ms. Liwaylaw R. Pizarra, Municipal Agriculturist of Catanauan. Dr. Orencio discussed the purpose of the visit which is to gather information on the current situation of the coconut farmers and visit the processing facilities. He reiterated the activities done by SEARCA with PG Quezon for the last two years which include project conceptualization and development. He also pointed out that the findings of the assessment will formulate recommendations on identifying the project components and how it will be implemented to furtehr develop the coconut industry growth areas in the province of Quezon, with Catanauan as the pilot site.
Science and Technology Complex for Coconut (CoCoQueST), also located in Catanauan. The visit aimed to monitor the progress of the buildings and inspect the damages brought about by the typhoons that hit the municipality and the province. The CoCoQueST is a research and development center that will cater to the processing and marketing of the coconut products and develop the capacity of stakeholders in coconut-based enterprises. As a leading producer of coconut in the country, the PG Quezon pushes to sustain the competitiveness of the raw and high-value products of coconut through the CoCoQueST.
To recapitulate the whole scoping activity, Dr. Orencio led the debriefing to review the information obtained and actions taken during the visit. He synthesized the situation of the farmers and their knowledge and attitude within the organizations, as well as their current processing and marketing schemes. He then underscored the importance of the baseline assessment through a value chain approach to identify growth and choke points along the chain. Thus, this will help the farmers on prioritizing which products to produce. This will also aid in realizing the proper interventions for the farmers and their organization. At the end of the meeting, the team agreed on the next steps of the project which includes drafting of the scoping report, organization and training of the multi-component team for the development of the baseline assessment tool and the rapid VCA, and data gathering.
The unveiling of the Development of Coconut Industry Growth Areas Project is anchored on SEARCA’s 55 years of experience in agricultural and rural development (ARD). This project, in partnership with the PG Quezon, is a collaborative action research initiative towards achieving the desired outputs and outcomes of the Center’s strategic intent stipulated in its 11th Five Year Plan (FYP) with the umbrella theme of Accelerating Transformation Through Agricultural Innovation (ATTAIN).