There has been some backlash against coconut sugar stating that it is ‘bad’ for the coconut industry and threatening livelihoods. These claims seem to all trace back to just one article, funded by a coconut oil manufacturer, perhaps a little annoyed that another area of the coconut industry was getting increased attention. Does this claim have any credence however?
Coconut farmers can choose to either tap the flower for nectar, or let the flower mature into a coconut and harvest the coconut 12 months later. Farmers make far more money from coconut sugar than from the selling the coconut. They have to process and produce the sugar themselves immediately, otherwise the nectar ferments. They do not process coconuts themselves, therefore only get a low base price for the nut. Which would you therefore choose?
Secondly, less than 1% of all coconut trees in the Philippines are used for sugar production. This hardly seems like it is destroying, or even close to taking over the coconut industry.
Thirdly, from observations, coconut farmers tend to do a bit of both. They will tap nectar from trees that are close to the house and thoroughfares. Why? Because tapping flowers = no coconuts on that tree = no coconuts falling on people’s heads. And coconuts falling on people’s heads is a bigger killer than lightning strikes. Trees further away will be allowed to mature their coconuts.
So all in all, it does not seem that it is that bad for farmers, more part of the portfolio of business opportunities that they might have. It also seems that the coconut industry seems quite healthy and demand for coconut sugar is not going to squeeze out other products, as demand for them is equally high, if not higher.
We’ll look in more detail about how good or bad coconut sugar is in further blogs coming up this week.
Have you visited any coconut plantations first hand and have any insights to share?