We all love our coconut water.
It turns out, maybe we love it too much.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the main sources of coconut water — coconut trees, if you were at all confused — in the Asia-Pacific region are getting too old to keep up with the expanding demand. From the release:
“Nearly 90 percent of the world’s coconuts and other products derived from coconut trees originate in this region, but the sector has problems and requires rehabilitation,” said Hiroyuki Konuma, FAO’s Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, following the opening session. “There is a need for replanting and rehabilitation of coconut trees,” Konuma said, pointing out that many of the coconut trees alive today were planted 50 – 60 years ago following the end of World War Two and therefore well past their most productive years.
The Asia-Pacific region is by far the largest producer and exporter of coconut products. The sector is vital to the economies of many countries, particularly smaller, island states. The largest producer for domestic consumption, India, harvests some 16 billion coconuts annually from nearly 2 million hectares. Indonesia and the Philippines produce 16 billion and 15 billion coconuts respectively for both domestic and export markets. “Livelihoods of one in every five Filipinos is directly or indirectly dependent on the coconut sector,” said Romulo Arancon, a meeting organizer and Executive Director of the Asian and Pacific Coconut Community.
About two years ago, there were some warnings about coconut water shortages, but that was due to harvest problems with a specific year’s crop in Thailand. This warning is broader and potentially more fundamental. Think about it this way: If suddenly the world was mostly populated by people older than 50, there would be a crisis in making babies.
Substitute in “young coconuts” for “young children.”
As the release notes, this isn’t just about whether an Ashtangi in, say, Kansas City, Mo. can get some coconut water. It also is potentially disastrous for the local economies that have grown to rely on this crop.
Just, er… food (or drink) for thought.
Posted by Steve