Peak Coconut crisis imminent
Asia's coconut palms, which mark the landscape from the Philippines to India, face a crisis as rapidly aging groves become less productive, curbing harvests that are a source of food and income for millions. The trees, many of which were planted about 50 to 60 years ago after World War II, no longer yield enough to meet rising global demand, according to the Rome-based Food & Agriculture Organization. There's an urgent need for replanting and rejuvenation, said Hiroyuki Konuma, regional representative for Asia and the Pacific at the United Nations agency, which is seeking to coordinate a response to the challenge.

At stake is the productivity of a core part of the rural economy in the Asia-Pacific, which accounts for about 85 percent of the global supply of the commodity that goes into food, fuel, soaps and cosmetics. In the Philippines, among the three biggest growers, one in five people depends on the crop to some extent, according to the Asian and Pacific Coconut Community. The Jakarta-based group, which represents growers, predicts that harvests could be increased to benefit millions of smallholders.

"We have a lot of aging trees," Yvonne Agustin, executive director of the United Coconut Association of the Philippines, said in an interview, adding some local palms are already 100 years old. "The government recognizes that and has embarked on a planting and replanting program," Agustin said by phone.

The slender trees that are a staple image for tourists' postcards are productive for between 50 years and a century, with the highest yields in the first three decades, according to the FAO. The harvest in the Asia-Pacific is now about 40 nuts per tree a year, compared with a potential yield of 75 to 150, it estimates, saying replanting is advisable after 60 years.
Death by coconut
Posted by: phil_b 2013-11-04