The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) has laid out its plan to assist the coconut industry, particularly in the Quezon province. Of importance is the value addition to coconut products, linkages of the farmers to the market, and farmers’ organization.

This was discussed in a meeting among representatives of SEARCA and the Quezon provincial government to level off expectations and determine the next steps to collaborate to realize the Quezon provincial government’s vision of “a market-driven coconut industry with empowered and resilient farmers engaging in profitable coconut-based enterprises contributing to inclusive and sustainable agricultural development.”

SEARCA Program Head for Research and Thought Leadership Pedcris M. Orencio said the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA)-Quezon presented its program which aims to establish provincial nurseries for high-yielding coconut varieties, replace senile coconut trees with high-yielding varieties, and increase coconut productivity through proper cultural management and fertilization.

Moreover, the program also has provisions to increase farmers’ income through crop diversification and intercropping (coffee, cacao, banana) and to improve the economic conditions of coconut farmers through engaging into value-adding activities and enterprise establishment. According to the OPA-Quezon, its agricultural development framework includes interventions along the whole value chain.

SEARCA Director Glenn B. Gregorio said SEARCA intends to support the development of Quezon’s coconut industry through technical assistance, capacity building, knowledge management, and linkages and networks using the gains of its project on piloting and upscaling effective models of inclusive and sustainable agricultural and rural development (ISARD). He added that the implementation model will be customized based on the gaps and needs in the project sites and translated into development strategies. Orencio said a guidebook that illustrates the step-by-step process for setting up models of ISARD in communities will be used to scale out SEARCA’s implementation model in Quezon.

He explained that the guidebook contains the research outputs, lessons learned, challenges and recommendations from the ISARD pilot project, and will be a reference for scaling the project across different crops and various locations in the country and other parts of Southeast Asia. Orencio said the guidebook promotes the sustainability strategy of combining the strengths of the academe as source of experts and technologies—through partner state universities and colleges—and the local government units as provider of public goods and extension services.