Philippine Coco Oil Production Not an Environmental, Biodiversity Threat - UCAPThursday, August 13, 2020
Production of coconut oil in the country is not an environmental and biodiversity threat. The United Coconut Associations of the Philippines (UCAP) issued the statement after the recent publication of articles which indicated that the process of producing coconut oil is an environmental threat and is “worse” than palm oil production. UCAP cited a report from the United Kingdom’s University of Exeter, which claimed that the production of coconut oil threatens around 20 animal species for every million tons made.
What is happening in the country is the opposite. The main problem facing the local industry is the near extinction of coconut trees, most of which were planted during the Spanish colonial period that started in the 1600s when local coconuts were already exported to other countries, such as Mexico, as these were also ruled by the Spaniards. “We are pleading to regulatory authorities to immediately address and avert the collapse of the industry,” UCAP said.
Victoria Espaldon, former Dean of the University of the Philippines-Los Baños School of Environment Science and Management said the transformation of Philippine landscapes to coconut began hundreds of years ago. “At the moment, it is not expanding, rather, coconut areas are receding and being transformed into other land uses or mixed uses (agroforestry),” she said, adding that coconut-based diversified farms are turning into habitats for wildlife, particularly for birds and insects.”
“Coconut oil processing plants are now much improved and have been more environmentally conscious as much as palm oil production. Wastes from coconut production like husks are now being turned into big enterprises—garden media, coco coir, coco-dusts.”
Ateneo de Manila University School of Sciences professor emeritus Toby Dayrit agreed, saying, “no rain forests have been burned in the past 200 years to plant coconuts.” He said coconuts are “pioneer species in island ecosystems, and coconuts actually promote biodiversity in barren islands and seashores where no other plants grow.”
Palm oil corners nearly 45 percent of the global market while coconut oil accounts for just about two percent but stakeholders said the coconut’s usefulness compared to palm goes beyond oil. Coconut, many times referred to as a low-cost but nutritious poor man’s food, is being used to manufacture virgin coconut oil and MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oil health supplements, beauty products, biodiesel and aesthetic decors.
PHILIPPINE EXPORT OF COCONUT PRODUCTS DOWN IN MAY
Official data from the Philippine Statistics Authority show the Philippines exported in May 125,876 MT of coconut poducts expressed in copra terms. This cut by 32.8% May last year shipment at 185,023 MT. Gross export receipts amounted to USD124.797 million, recording a shortfall of 15.5% from last year at USD147.660 million.
Export of coconut oil plunged 38.6% year-on-year to 61,743 MT from 100,580 MT while copra meal climbed 13.8% to 15,331 MT from 13,468 MT. Desiccated coconut reduced shipment by 10.0% to 10,723 MT from 11,918 MT while oleochemicals shot up 62.5% to 11,293 MT as copra from 6,947 MT.
Other products performed as follows, in MT: coco shell charcoal 6,449 (-11.4% from 7,279 last year), activated carbon 5,782 (-21.8% from 7,399), virgin coconut oil 2,007 (-9.9% from 2,228), coco water 9,124 liters (-99.9% from 9.603 million liters), fresh coconuts 37 ( 72.7% from 135), Others 22,369 (+107.2% from 10,796).
January-May export reached 731,648 MT in copra terms, a drop by 13.5% from 845,864 MT at the same time last year. Desiccated coconut and oleochemicals were growth sectors, topping respective last year totals by 7.8% and 73.4%. Breakdown is as follows, in MT: coconut oil 382,237 (467,572 last year), copra meal 102,014 (125,169), desiccated coconut 58,374 (54,131), oleochemicals as copra 34,673 (19,996);
Coco shell charcoal 34,375 (29,344), activated carbon 31,513 (34,790), virgin coconut oil 8,626 (8,658), coco water 7.901 million liters (35.921 million), fresh coconuts 111 (1,075), Others 107,508 (61,468).