Salt business knocking on Guv’s doorstep
By Al S. Mendoza
I think it was late last year when Euclid G. Forbes went to Lingayen to meet up with Raffy Baraan.
For my unabashed love for Pangasinan, I had arranged that meeting.
I was supposed to join that meeting but I got sick on the eve of departure.
Upon learning that I was indisposed, Euclid wanted to scrap the trip.
“Please don’t,” I pleaded with Euclid. “Aro Raffy is all set to host you a sumptuous lunch.”
Euclid, by the way, is the administrator of the Philippine Coconut Authority under the Department of Agriculture headed by Proceso J. Alcala.
And, of course, who doesn’t know Raffy Baraan?
He is Guv Espines chief lieutenant, the provincial administrator no less.
The reason I had arranged a meeting between Euclid and Raffy post-haste was because of what Euclid had told me while having coffee with him one morning.
“We are badly in need of salt, Al,” Euclid said. “Our suppliers in Palawan and other parts of the country couldn’t cope up with our demand.”
If memory serves, I think Euclid, a lawyer, told me his office has an annual budget running “into millions of pesos” reserved for the regular purchase of salt.
In case you still don’t know it, salt is the No. 1 fertilizer for coconut trees.
“Since you are from Pangasinan, Al, I bet you can help me with this because everybody knows that Pangasinan is a big producer of salt.”
With that, I immediately called up Raffy.
“Bring him here,” Raffy said to me. “We could come up with something that would most likely benefit our province. I will alert our salt-producers here about it.”
I hadn’t heard anything about it after that—until last week, when I was invited at the 26th staging of the National Coconut Festival at the PCA compound along Elliptical Road, Q.C.
In the press conference that morning moderated by the irrepressible Thelma Tolentino, the PCA chief of information, with Secretary Alcala in attendance, I fired this question to Euclid: “Whatever happened to the PCA’s plan to explore the possibility of buying salt from my beloved Pangasinan?”
“I was told that day in my meeting with Mr. Baraan that your sources of salt in Pangasinan weren’t that cooperative,” Euclid said. “Too bad that your salt-makers weren’t united.”
I was heart-broken. Earnings down the drain for my kabaleyans.
Do you know that we still import salt to fertilize our coconut industry, which earns $2 billion in exports annually?
For the past two years alone, 21.56 million coconut trees had been fertilized.
This year alone, 20 million trees are programmed to be fertilized and another 20 million more in 2013.
Perhaps Aro Raffy, request the Good Guv to step in and revive the salt talks?
I’d be more than willing to help. Again.
Like Guv Spines, I don’t give up that easily.