Last April we sounded the coconut-alarm. The months that followed felt like nothing less than a gigantic rollercoaster. A super interesting and informative rollercoaster, that is. Time to look back and take a look ahead.
What this project was all about: the many coconut farmers that are living below or on the poverty line. Worldwide there are about 16 million smallholder coconut farmers. A significant part of them are living in poverty, which means they go to bed hungry and aren’t able to pay for the schooling of their kids for example. The Netherlands has a huge responsibility regarding this issue: we are the second largest importer of coconut-oil in the world. A large part of the oil we import is being exported again right away, but still we process 107 million kilos a year. Of all the products in Dutch supermarkets, 1 in 20 contains coconut. It can be found in candy, ice-cream, cookies, instant coffee and baby food.
Behind the 107 million kilos are 200.000 smallholder coconut farmers, most of them located in the Philippines. In the Philippines, about 56 percent of the coconut farmers are living below the poverty line. Together with their family, they are living off 1,90$ a day. Also: to harvest the coconuts, they need to climb palm trees that can grow to be 30 meters tall. Because the nuts of their own trees often don’t earn them enough money, many of the farmers are also working as climbers, on bigger coconut plantations. A dangerous job. An accident lurks just around the corner and can have disastrous consequences, both for the farmer and his or her family.