By JAMES TABABA
Lloyd Pantollano, the owner of Pantollano Coconut Farm, is a certified producer of dwarf coconuts in Davao City. Holding accreditation and trader certificates issued by the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), he specializes in the cultivation and distribution of various coconut varieties. His primary focus centers on the propagation of coconut seedlings.
Lloyd pursued a college course in computer science, a field different from his current occupation. His venture into the coconut seedling business began in 2012, following his employment with the Philippine Coconut Authority, where he worked from 2006 to 2020. In 2020, he made the decision to resign from PCA to concentrate fully on his coconut business.
His main nursery is located in Davao City, complemented by another branch in Surigao City. Additionally, Lloyd manages a coconut farm in Digos City, Davao Del Sur.
A commitment to quality
Lloyd has dedicated over a decade to his coconut seedling business, serving as a reliable supplier not only within Mindanao but also in the distant regions of Luzon and Visayas. His clients extend to several farms in locations such as Pangasinan, Quezon, Palawan, Davao, and many others, demonstrating his extensive reach within the industry.
Lloyd’s farming business revolves around coconut seedling production, encompassing the germination process from mother trees, seed management, and the meticulous care of seedlings in the nursery. He also obtained Good Agricultural Practices accreditation from the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA).
“I am drawn to engage in coconut seedling production because coconuts are easy to maintain during the germination and seedbed preparation process,” Lloyd said in Tagalog.
Lloyd takes great care to guarantee the quality of his seedlings. This commitment is reflected in his marketing strategy, where he consistently promotes his products as “quality dwarf coconut.” He is dedicated in his resolve not to offer his customers anything less than superior quality coconut seedlings.
Lloyd emphasizes the vital importance of sourcing planting material for coconut production. “Buyers should consistently opt for traders and producers who possess certification from the Philippine Coconut Authority, as it serves as a crucial guarantee that they are obtaining the desired coconut varieties,” Lloyd said. “This is particularly important given that distinguishing between dwarf and tall varieties is not easily achievable solely by examining seedlings.”
Given that coconut trees require three years to bear fruit, Lloyd stresses the potential repercussions of purchasing inferior coconuts or the wrong varieties, which can result in a waste of time and money.
“I highly value customer feedback,” Lloyd said. “I am committed to supporting coconut farmers and providing them with what they truly need. Thankfully, I have not received any negative feedback from my customers.”
The early-bearing dwarf coconuts
According to Lloyd, Farmers are often drawn to cultivating dwarf coconut varieties due to their early-bearing nature. For instance, the Tacunan dwarf variety stands out as its fruits appear to almost touch the ground when they start bearing. Within a relatively short period of three years, dwarf coconut trees begin to produce flowers, allowing for continuous harvesting in the following year. The differences between dwarf and tall coconut varieties are relatively minor. However, when considering the practical aspects, dwarf varieties often prove superior. They require less labor for harvesting and are easier to manage.
Over a span of 20 years, dwarf coconut trees typically reach a maximum height of 20 feet, which is shorter than their tall counterparts. This feature further contributes to their appeal among farmers.
The best-selling variety among Lloyd’s coconuts is the Tacunan dwarf. This variety, categorized as a regular dwarf, features medium to large nuts with relatively thicker meat compared to other options. It’s a top choice for those interested in coconut meat and copra production.
Another popular choice is the Aromatic green dwarf variety. While its fruit is smaller than the Tacunan dwarf, it yields more fruit in a bunch. The Aromatic green dwarf is known for its sweeter coconut water, making it a favorable choice for coconut sugar production.
In addition to the Tacunan Dwarf and Aromatic Dwarf coconut varieties, Lloyd’s offers a diverse selection of other options including the Catigan Dwarf, Laguna Tall, Malayan Red Dwarf, Golden King Dwarf, Tagnanan Tall, Buko Pandan Dwarf, and Macapuno embryo seedlings.
For those interested in purchasing coconut seedlings outside of Mindanao, the seedlings are shipped via bus cargo for pickup in Pasay, Manila. Meanwhile, for customers in Visayas, the seedlings are shipped via air cargo. However, customers within Davao and nearby provionces have the option to pick up their orders directly from the nursery.
Quality management matters
Lloyd recognizes that all coconut varieties possess their unique qualities. However, “the quality of the coconuts produced hinges on tree management practices, including fertilizer management, cultural techniques, and sanitation practices,” he said. “Engaging in coconut production demands a dedicated focus, as neglecting the maintenance and management of coconut trees can lead to a diminished quality of fruit.”
Challenges in coconut nursery management
One of the primary challenges Lloyd faced in coconut nursery management is coping with the dry season, which highlighted the need for irrigation. During this period, the absence of rain demands additional expenses for irrigation. The second challenge arises during periods of low coconut demand, typically coinciding with the Christmas season and the times when students are graduating and enrolling in schools. Conversely, the peak season for heightened coconut demand typically occurs during the rainy season.
Lloyd stated that the primary pests affecting mature coconut trees are the coconut rhinoceros beetles, locally known as bakukang, and slug caterpillars, referred to as sampiring by locals. To combat slug caterpillars, he applies insecticides to the coconut tree leaves. In the case of the rhinoceros beetle, Lloyd employs pheromone traps as an effective control measure.
Coconut farming as a resilient business
Lloyd recognizes that coconut farming presents a good business opportunity. He acknowledges that, even during periods of declining coconut prices, the continued production ensures a steady income stream.
“While some coconut farmers may quickly become discouraged when coconut prices are low, there are alternative avenues to boost income,” Lloyd said. “Coconuts offer versatile opportunities for processing beyond merely selling the nuts and copra; they can be transformed into various products such as coconut sugar, coconut honey, and more.”
Lloyd encourages coconut farmers to explore these avenues to increase their income and resilience.
The importance of hands-on management and certifications
In the coconut nursery business, Lloyd values the importance of hands-on involvement in production, management, and people leadership. He places a strong emphasis on the selection and quality control of coconuts, ensuring that the coconut seedlings offered for sale are both healthy and free from pests.
Lloyd also stresses the necessity for all coconut farmers engaged in this business to secure the requisite permits. “Every coconut farmer involved in this business should obtain the necessary permits,” he said. ‘Even if you don’t possess a business permit yet, you can use a barangay permit as a preliminary document to apply for a permit from the Philippine Coconut Authority as a trader.”
Furthermore, Lloyd stated that aspiring traders must provide proof of the source of their seedlings, demonstrating that they originate from a PCA-accredited seed bank. “If one possesses a mother plant and aspires to become a nursery operator, it is necessary to undergo evaluation and accreditation by the PCA for official registration,” he added.
In the upcoming article, Lloyd will impart valuable insights and tips on nurturing your coconut seedlings successfully after acquiring them from the nursery.
Photo courtesy of Pantollano Coconut Farm