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PCA assures support for coco sugar

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Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) will further promote the competitiveness of local coconut sugar to help prevent outbound shipments of this rising export commodity from declining like those of the local delicacy nata de coco.

PCA Administrator Euclides Forbes gave such assurance, noting the agency is bent on supporting coco sugar particularly as demand for this commodity is improving since consumers are increasingly realizing its health benefits.

"We won't allow coco sugar to end up like nata de coco," he said. Forbes said the Philippines already exports some 70 tons of coco sugar per month to the United States, Australia and Europe since this commodity is becoming popular for being a healthy alternative to traditional sugar.

"Glycemic index (GI) of coco sugar is about 35 so even diabetics can use this product," he said.

Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) defines GI as "a method of classifying food based on glucose response of an individual to a food relative to a starchy food, e.g. white bread, or to a standard glucose solution."

The food classification levels are low GI (55 or less), medium GI (56-69) and high GI (70 or more), FNRI said.

FNRI recommends low GI food for proper control and management of diabetes milletus and cardiovascular disease as well as for maintaining weight.
A study on PCA-prepared coco sugar sample shows this product's GI is 35 only.

"Coco sugar's a wonder product," Forbes said.

Philippine Council for Industry and Energy Research and Development (PCIERD) earlier reported local nata de coco producers sought government's assistance to help increase this commodity's export competitiveness.

Citing Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) figures, PCIERD said nata de coco exports peaked in 1993 at US$ 26 million but declined to US$ 10.05 million in 2000 and further slid to US$ 3.24 million in 2001.

DTI attributed such decline to competition from Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan and Indonesia which collectively ate up a considerable share of Philippine nata de coco's foreign market share, PCIERD noted.

Like coco sugar, nata de coco is a coconut-based product. To help boost the Philippine coconut industry, Forbes earlier said PCA will continue pursuing next year its nationwide replanting and salt fertilization activities.

Such activities target replanting and fertilizing some 13 million and 20 million coconut trees, respectively, he noted.

PCA will also promote intercropping across the country's coconut areas, he added. Intercropping enables farmers to grow various crops under coconut trees.

By PNA/PIA9- ZBST




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