The average return per hectare of coconut is about $50 per year. With an average land area of 4 hectares and no other sources of income, this provides the farmer with an income of $200 per year: far below the poverty line of $1.90 per day.
In the Philippines, where most of the coconut we use in Holland comes from, about 56% of the coconut farmers, and 40% of the employees, live in poverty.
Farmers who don’t own enough land, often are forced to work as climbers on bigger coconut farms. They climb about 30 trees per day – the trees being up to 30 meters high. If they fall and are unable to work for some time they usually don’t have any income, which can be disastrous for both the farmer and his or her family.
The Netherlands can make a serious change
The Netherlands is the second largest coconut oil importer in the world. 89% of the value of all coconut products that we import is coconut oil. We immediately export a large part of this oil. However, a substantial part, 107 million kilos, is processed in the Netherlands. This is subsequently consumed or exported in products.
Approximately 16 million smallholder farmers are behind the coconut we use in the Netherlands. There is relatively little good research available about the employees on plantations and with smallholder farmers. Fairfood estimates that number to be about 5 million.