All because of the ‘One-Two’ knock-out punches by natural calamities – Typhoons Yolanda, that earned the sobriquet of the “Strongest Typhoon ever recorded in modern history” and Ruby known to be the “longest staying typhoon (12-14 hours) that castigated Eastern Visayas in November 2013 and December 2014, respectively, Region 8 known for its wide thick cover of coconut trees, stands to lose the opportunity to participate in several European Companies plan to invest in the Philippines for the EXPORT OF COCONUT WATER.

The good news, learned from the Vice president cum general manager of the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), the plan is to start the companies coconut water business in Batangas in early 2015. The companies clients are situated world-wide, though it will initially target the member countries of the European Union (EU). The acceptability of coconut water by the world-wide clients is its well-researched health benefits! Mr. Martial Beck, VP and GM of ECCP, was quoted saying “So this is some benefit to the farmers because they can now sell the water which would otherwise often just be thrown away if it’s not sold locally.” True, indeed, as the local coconut water buyer activity based in Baybay City has been crippled Initially by Yolanda and given a stinging ‘coup de grace’ punch by Ruby!

The Philippines, already a grantee from the EU Parliament in December 18, 2014, of a Generalized System of Preferences Plus (GSP+), allows it to enjoy ZERO duty for 6.274 products entering the EU for the next Ten (10) years. The country’s coconut water export adds up to the now reduced tariffs of the GSP+ accorded such export products like pineapple juice, garments, preserved fruits, tuna, fruit jams and jellies, and footwear.

Of the six (6) provinces of Eastern Visayas, Leyte and Southern Leyte are top coconut products producers, e.g. mostly consumer oil from copra, Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO), and to some lesser extent coco-lumber and other local usages as building materials – coconut being the undisputed “Tree of Life” Manna from Heaven. Who knows the initial location of the coco water project could have been Leyte, instead, had the two natural calamities not hit Eastern Visayas!

Incidentally, of the many towns in Leyte’s two provinces, Burauen, with its 77 barangays easily tops in coconut trees plantations, and acceptedly has the highest tonnage of copra production. However, most of these vast expanse of coconut trees had been reduced to standing decapitated trees likened to standing unlighted candles – the culprits were the 2 natural calamities that castigated most of Eastern Visayas, Leyte island specifically.

In an earlier column, I made special mention and in the form of an emphatic appeal, wrote about coconut water just thrown (rarely made into vinegar and or as drinking ‘water’ of domesticated animals), away as waste material! Being a native of Burauen, I did emphasize the need for its LGU officials to take a serious look at the opportunity of padding the coco farmers’ income by making Burauen a Pick-up Point cum Buying Station for Coconut water, handily available every after three (3) copra-making months or 4-times a year!
Unluckily, our LGU officials did not grab that opportunity of converting wasted coconut water into “gold”, and now it’s another lost opportunity with the EU’s big-time business of harnessing the Philippines, specifically that from Eastern Visayas untapped coco water into another source of the country’s revenue.
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