A temporary ban on palm oil imports must be implemented as Filipino coconut and oil palm farmers complained of extremely low prices due to the dumping of the commodity by two major palm oil producing countries in Southeast Asia.
This was the recommendation of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to the Department of Energy (DoE) and National Bio-Fuels Board (NBB) since palm oil imports from Indonesia and Malaysia have increased by 900 percent over the last three years.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said they also asked for the increase of coconut oil component of the bio-diesel from B2 to B5 or from 2 percent to 5 percent.
Piñol said the DA resubmitted the two recommendations, which were made as early as last year, to the Economic Cluster, the DoE and NBB following reports that the European Union has started the ban on palm oil imports from Malaysia and Indonesia over environmental issues.
“This development is expected to result in the dumping of palm oil into countries like the Philippines. Under the rules of the World Trade Organization, member countries could initiate measures to safeguard its farmers affected by the dumping of excess commodities from other countries,” Piñol said.
Piñol stressed that the ban is temporary and is effective only for a specified period.
He added that the increase in the coconut oil composition of the bio-diesel to 5 percent is projected to consume about 200,000-metric tons of copra.
According to Piñol, coconut oil in bio-diesel also reduces air pollution and increases mileage by at least three kilometers per liter.
“This recommendation, however, is opposed by major fuel companies saying that it would increase diesel fuel cost by P0. 35 per liter,” Piñol added.
However, he clarified that the DA, through the Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC), has offered loans for livelihood projects for coconut farmers pending action on their recommendations.
Piñol noted that the DA also offered loans for the acquisition of hauling trucks and working capital for farmers groups so they could buy the product of their members and deliver these directly to the coconut oil mills.
Pinol said the government owned CIIF-Oil Management Group has agreed to set its mill gate buying price at P20 per kilo.