Another industry on the verge of collapse due to corruption and exploitation, coconut farming is heading into crisis due to the age of the trees. I was only recently aware of how poorly people get paid for their stock recently when one of my wife’s friends was offered around P4 per coconut for export while smaller coconuts if they reach Tesco’s in the UK are around P40 as well as they aren’t so cheap in the local markets either! Where does all the profit go because none of it seems to head back to the farmers to help produce crops!
This is now starting to cause a ripple affect due to the age of trees because cutting back on the farmers means the farmers end up cutting back and the only thing they can really skimp on is new crops. The Philippines has around 44 million coconut trees that are past fertile age and now stopping to produce any fruit at all. This crisis may end up more severe than grumblings though as 25 percent of the Philippines population relies on the industry three million coconut farmers plus dependants on the industry. The trees need replacing and the issue is only going to continue to accelerate forcing within 3 – 5 years the in ability for the Philippines to produce enough coconuts to meet export demand. The income for the country as a whole last year alone was $1.508 billion yet this year government figures are looking at a 13% drop in production on 2010 as well as a 30% drop in coconut oil. All caused by the aging trees and lack of replacement projects.
A coconut tree reaches maturity at 7 to 25 years and will bear 40 – 65 coconuts per tree per year. The current problem is seeing that many trees are already over sixty years old and lucky if they bear 10 coconuts per year if at all. Although the government is spending P220million ($5.2 million) next year this offers up less than 10% of the national problem as well as the fact no doubt more trees will become senile next year. Question should be where is the money going and why isn’t it being ploughed back into a backbone industry of the Philippines?