An additional 1,000 hectares of coconut plantations are being targeted for planting in Negros Occidental this year, according to the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA).

Rodrigo Gamarcha Jr., coconut development manager of PCA-Negros Occidental, said in a report Monday they are optimistic to hit the target for 2017 since the province still has wide areas potential for coconut production.

At present, the province has about 40,000 hectares of coconut plantations with almost 2.4 million bearing trees.

From only 500 hectares in the previous years, Negros Occidental’s target allocation has been increased to 1,000 hectares as part of the PCA’s program to increase the coconut population in the country.

PCA records showed that Negros Occidental has a cumulative increase of 25 to 30 percent in production areas between 2013 and 2016.

Gamarcha said they are looking at using the perimeter boundaries of sugarcane farms as well as the 700 kilometers shoreline areas as potential for coconut plantations.

Moreover, the PCA is also strictly implementing the temporary ban on cutting coconut trees in Negros Occidental following the three-month moratorium in the cutting of coconut trees, except in the province of Basilan and Isabela City, starting January 3.

Gamarcha added that they have already informed coconut farmers about the temporary cutting ban, and they will ask assistance from the Philippine National Police in monitoring and in intercepting illegal coconut loggers.

However, cutting activities are still expected since cutting permits were approved on and before December 23, which were before the issuance of the moratorium last December 28.(PNA) PGL/NLG/EPN