In the Philippines, Asenso means progress—and the country’s coconut sector desperately needs this. Roughly nine million Filipinos who are dependent on coconut farming live in poverty. Coconut farmers earn so little that many are not investing in replanting to replace old, unproductive trees—causing coconut production to decline despite increasing demand.
The current model for coconut processing in the Philippines is both inequitable and inefficient.
Most high-value coconut products (e.g., virgin coconut oil and desiccated coconut) are manufactured in huge factories that are clustered in industrialized regions of the country. These factories have a difficult time sourcing coconuts because they are in heavy competition with each other for the same supply of nearby coconuts. Meanwhile, in more remote regions, coconuts are readily available but the cost of transporting them to the factories is just too high.
Farmers who live far from large coconut-processing factories have little choice but to process coconuts on their farms into a very low-value product called copra. Average annual incomes from copra are only $620 per year and copra-dependent communities are among the poorest in the Philippines.