Livelihoods Diversification: Potential means to Alleviate Poverty of the Copra Producers in Davao Oriental, Philippines
Poverty is the situation of the coconut industry in the Philippines; the province of Davao Oriental suffers in spite considered one of the highest coconut producing areas in the country. Witnessing the impoverishment of the people involved in coconut farming and production, the assumption that they depend too much on copra production left them socio-economically behind. Copra production is the main source of income of the coconut farmers and their province. The study tried to bridge the solution to the coconut farmers’ poverty, particularly Davao Oriental’s case. What problems limit the farmers making them dependent on copra production when it gives low returns? If they venture in diversifying to other coconut products or other forms of livelihoods, how feasible will this be? What forms of diversification, proven in other agricultural settings, might be useful to strengthen their livelihoods? Will this be favorable for the coconut farmers to lift them from poverty? Can these [presented cases]livelihood diversification activities be replicated in the case of the small coconut farmers and farmworkers in Davao Oriental? To what degree can the existing capitals of the farmers support adoption of specific types of diversification to strengthen their livelihoods? Among the capitals required to fulfill the presented diversification efforts, which supports or constrains the success of diversification among the groups of small coconut farmers and farmworkers? What lessons are solicited from other livelihood diversification cases which can work for these group of farmers and present it to the provincial policy makers and local office of the PCA? Now, a picture in the following research is probable: The small copra/coconut producers in the province experience poverty since they only process the coconut into copra, relying on it for most of their household income. To solve this problem, venturing into other forms of livelihoods as an effort of diversification seems to be appropriate to their case. Even though the national and provincial economy benefit much from coconut oil export, the farmers suffer much from poor revenues they get from copra processing. One livelihood strategy they can resort to is diversification, whether into other forms of coconuts product or other kinds of income generating activity, may it be related to the coconut industry or not as long as it supports the household needs of the farmers. But efforts to venture into livelihood diversification require significant levels of capital for livelihoods to become sustainable and benefiting. The farmers encounter problems acquiring capital required for diversification. However, there are certain types of diversifications that seem to be compatible to different group of small coconut farmers and farmworkers in the province, can be useful enough given the existing capitals.
Keywords: Coconuts, Philippines, livelihoods, Livelihoods Diversification
Prof. Reine Kathryn D. Taya
Assistant Professor, Department of Social Science