The Philippine Coconut Authority targets promoting during the 2011-2016 period intercropping of several priority high-value crops across 450,000 hectares of coconut land nationwide to help further boost agricultural productivity, food sufficiency and poverty alleviation in the country.
The crops and PCA's target total intercropping area for each are corn (165,125 hectares), banana (162,000 hectares), cacao (47,000 hectares), coffee (47,000 hectares) and pineapple (28,875 hectares).
Planting such crops under coconut trees is a "practical, least-cost and effective way" to harvest and earn more, noted PCA Operations Planning Department Officer-in-Charge Marvi Marasigan.
He expects intercropping to help improve lives of the planters who are among some 25 million Filipinos depending on the coconut industry for survival.
PCA earlier identified its target annual intercropping coverage for the priority crops as 70,250 hectares (2011), 71,750 hectares (2012), 73,000 hectares (2013), 75,000 hectares (2014), 79,625 hectares (2015) and 80,375 hectares (2016).
Latest available preliminary data National Statistics Office released this month show bananas and pineapple were among the top Philippine exports during 2011's first semester.
The country's total free on-board receipts for exporting fresh bananas then rose 66.20 percent to USD230.26 million from USD138.55 million during 2010's first six months.
January-June receipts for outbound shipment of pineapple and pineapple products also increased nearly 28.50 percent to USD129.93 million this year from USD101.16 million in 2010.
For the same months, NSO reported receipts for exporting coconut products surged 48 percent to USD1.02 billion in 2011 from last year's USD687.18 million.
Among such products were copra, coconut oil and desiccated coconut.
Intercropping, salt fertilization and participatory planting are the three components of PCA's National Coconut Productivity Program that aims to enhance coconut production nationwide.
Marasigan cited need for intervention, noting average annual coconut production growth nationwide stagnated at a mere two percent during the past decade.
For 2010, he reported nationwide coconut production reached 15.87 million metric tons.
Production volume neared 13 million MTs in 2000, he noted.
PCA reported intercropping in 572,425 hectares of coconut areas around the country during the years 2005-2010.
Such intercropping benefited then some 500,000 farmers in the areas, PCA noted.
Intercropping also created there a job in each hectare of land where this planting activity was undertaken, PCA added.*PNA