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Cocolink is an international conference led by the Davao Region Coconut Industry Cluster Inc. (DRCICI), a group of coconut producers in Davao  formed  jointly by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), under the Davao Industry Cluster Capacity Enhancement Project (DICCEP)  in 2007. Coconut cluster is one of the successful clusters under this project. It is supported by the ACDI-VOCA, an economic development organization supported by the  United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)  that fosters broad-based economic growth.

DRCICI President Reynaldo Go said the First Cocolink 2016 was able to gather coconut-industry stakeholders to help address the local challenges and global opportunities through cooperation among industry players and enablers, which include local and global partners in the value chain. The event linked together industry players by sharing best practices from production to marketing, he said.

Among the topics discussed were the state of the coconut industry; the Philippine Coconut Industry Situationer; coconut technologies and production; coconut-based farming systems and income diversification; Doing Business in Free-Trade Areas (DBFTA); and the Coconut Industry Development Initiatives and Sustainability Programs.

New and innovative coconut products were showcased during the conference, with pet products made of coco coir creating interests among foreign buyers from Dubai and the US.  Products, like coconut cooking oil, coco sugar, coco jam, virgin coconut oil, coco cream, coco milk, coco water and other products made of coconut, were among those featured in the event.

As a parallel event, the DTI’s Export Marketing Bureau (EMB) conducted business-to-business (B2B) meetings with buyers from Japan, Korea, Dubai and the US. A total of 74 Philippine producers and exporters of  coconut food products and non-food products, mostly coming from Luzon and Mindanao, participated in the business meetings.  DTI-EMB was able to profile more than 70 new and existing coconut-producing companies under its National Exporters Profiling Program (NEPP).

A networking dinner reception sponsored by the DRCICI, where buyers had the chance to meet Mindanao- and Manila-based suppliers and exporters, was held at the Waterfront Insular Hotel on July 28. Guests and buyers feasted on local fruits, like durian, mangosteen and marang, while enjoying a cultural presentation featuring ethnic Muslim dances.

EMB Director Senen M. Perlada said, “It has taken us this long time to be able to do the First International Coconut Conference. I hope this will not be the last, because precisely, this initiative can be the beginning of what we have to do in order to get the coconut industry together.”

Go said his group is now preparing for Cocolink 2017 and looks forward to receiving the same support from the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) and the DTI. He said next year’s event will be bigger and teeming with international buyers from as far as Europe and the US.  He said the campaign will be more intensive, especially in areas considered as nontraditional markets of coconut products.

“Cocolink will be the premier coconut event in this side of the globe, attracting buyers from all over the world,” he said.

This year’s Cocolink was also supported by various government agencies in Region 11, such as the PCA, the DTI and the Department of Tourism.  It also got assistance from the Foreign Trade Service Corps and the Department of Agriculture.□

Ma. Melvin Joves, Product Officer, Coconut Sector, Food and Agri-Marine Division, Export Marketing Bureau, Department of Trade and Industry



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