Logging coco trees for commercial lumber PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 07 July 2016 13:49

Table Talk

BY Mike S Apostol

Table Talk observed and noted that logging of coconut trees in many municipalities in the Zamboanga Peninsula is rampant. Coconut tree logging is made legal with a permit from the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), says one coco lumber businessman in Zamboanga Del Sur.

It is a profitable business because lumber businessmen in the Peninsula buy the unproductive coconut trees at a pittance price per tree from the coconut grower and sell them per board feet at a price prevailing in the lumber market, usually over P20  per board feet or a little lesser. Coconut lumber businessmen make a “killing” in the transaction, because an unproductive 60 years old or more coconut tree, ordinarily, scales over 250 or more board feet per tree. In many municipalities that grow coconut trees as its domestic product, coco lumber businessmen only buy P150 per tree and if the coco trees for sale is a distance from the highway, they offer only P100 per tree. Try to compute, a minimum of 200 board feet per coconut tree sold at the lumber yard for only P18 per board feet and bought at P150 per tree, you will know that a coco lumber buyer makes at least a 500% profit per coconut tree. This is grossly unfair to the coconut grower who cared for those trees for 60 years or more and most of those coconut trees were already cared starting from their parents.

* * * * * *

I do not blame the coco grower for the one sided transaction. I blame more the PCA and the DENR for issuing cutting and transport permits on unproductive coconut trees without any guideline as to the buying price per coconut tree, like copra, the by-product of coconuts. If copra price can be controlled by the government, sometimes even way below the world market price, but, at least it has. Why can’t the PCA  tasked by government to administer coconut plantation matters, issue some information to guide coconut farmers? This way, coconut farmers will not entertain doubts that the PCA and coconut tree lumber buyers are not in cahoots with each other in some form of corruption. No doubt, coconut lumber businessmen are fooling the PCA on those cutting and transport permits of coconut trees by using those issued permits many times and over and over again by super-imposing the name of the permittee. This is cheating the government.

* * * * * *

One classic example of coconut tree disparity, was when in a casual conversation with a friend from Dipolog, Zamboanga Del Norte, whose family also owns a coconut farm, confided during our conversation that he just recently disposed 30 of his old and unproductive coconut trees for P700 per tree to buy his maintenance medicines. I almost fell in from my chair with surprise and anger because I also sold some 25 trees recently in my farm in Lapuyan, Zamboanga Del Sur but only for P150 per tree, whih is barely enough for my bus fare in going home to Zambonga City. My friend’s farm is in the municipality of Roxas, Zamboanga Del Norte and although it has good road to Dipolog City, Lapuyan Municipality, although has a muddy road, is nearer to Pagadian City by at least 15 kilometers. The buying price disparity is obnoxious and anomalous.

* * * * * *

A coconut tree is most abused God’s creation. Years back, when coconut trees were young and very productive, its by-product of copra, when sold to the buyers, a certain coco levy is collected by the government under the name of the copra producer. when the coco levy accumulated into billions of pesos, the government decided to invest it in a commercial private bank, bearing the name of coconut planters, whom they boasted were owned by the coconut farmers. The commercial bank flourished and expanded throughout the country some in foreign lands, but, not anymore owned by the coconut farmers, who owned them only in paper and in the news. The bank is still existing today but the coconut farmers are holding an “empty bag” after parting some of their hard earned income from the sale of copra with a dream to alleviate them from misery. Many coconut farmers already died with those dream. Now that those coconut trees are old and unproductive, some coconut farmers are still fooled by coconut lumber businessmen with a “starvation buying price” when coconut farmers try to sell them to make-up for their losses in those forced investment and this has been happening for many years and yet no end is in sight. Government must show compassion to coconut farmers who still wallow in poverty and misery in a similar situation when they first planted those coconut trees, many years back, braving the hazards of nature, rain or shine and many times in an empty stomach.

* * * * * *

The PCA and DENR must help the farmers by issuing guidelines on the buying price per coconut tree so coconut farmers will be made aware. They should also be strict in monitoring the cutting and transporting permit they have issued because it is a known fact that coconut lumber businessmen are fooling their office by using those issued permits many times and again and again by super-imposing the name of the permittee.This has got to stop and help the coconut farmers who are not drug addicts but loyal taxpayers.

* * * * * *

Scoop: Next time when that coconut lumber businessman comes to me and offers to buy some unproductive coconut tree and has not increased his buying price, Table Talk will hang him in the tallest and oldest coconut tree in the farm. This is a fair deal. agree or disagree.

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 July 2016 14:32