An association of coconut farmers in Antique is a recipient of P42-million assistance from the Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization (PhilMech) for a cooking oil processing center that will rise in Barangay Funda in Hamtic town.

The Hamtic Coconut Farmers Marketing Cooperative availed the project under the Coconut Farmer Industry Program.

“The Integrated White Copra and Cooking Oil Processing Center is the first of its kind to be established in Antique that could greatly help our coco farmers,” Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) Antique head Gregory Teñoso III said in an interview.

In addition to building construction, part of the funds will be for machines and equipment acquisition, including a coconut water extractor and belt conveyor.

The Antique provincial government will provide a P1 million working capital for the cooperative, while the PCA will extend technical support to ensure the quality of the cooking oil.

The cooperative will source raw materials from its members and other farmers in the province.

“The cooperative will buy the nuts at P8 each, higher when compared with the selling price in the market,” he said, adding that the prevailing market price is only P7 per nut.

Once the center is up and running, coconut farmers in the province no longer have to go to Iloilo to sell their produce.

“The processing center needs 25,000 nuts in a week to produce 4,000 liters of cooking oil that could be supplied to retailers and grocery stores,” he said.

Teñoso said Antique has 30,367.26 hectares devoted to coconut with 3,044,921 existing palms, of which 1,779,338 are in their fruit-bearing stage.

On average, each coconut tree can produce 49 nuts annually.PNA