How We Can Protect Smallholder Coconut Farmers in a Booming Industry

How We Can Protect Smallholder Coconut Farmers in a Booming Industry

by Whitney Gantt, Global Director, Mobile Agriculture, Grameen Foundation
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.@GrameenLac Foundation explains advocacy for small farmers in the billion dollar #coconutwater boom. @CiscoCSR

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Photo Credit: Fair Trade USA


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Thursday, July 2, 2015 - 6:05pm

This piece has been adapted from a post that first appeared in Devex.

I had my first taste of coconut water in Bay Islands, Honduras, in 2000. Back then it was an exotic drink you imagined sipping from a straw while vacationing in a tropical paradise. If you wanted to get some in the U.S., you had to hunt it down in enclaves where immigrants shopped for familiar foods from home.

Today, the coconut water industry is a billion dollar business. Though the demand for coconut products has skyrocketed over the past decade, very little of the rewards have trickled down to smallholder farmers in coconut-producing countries. While American consumers pay an average of $1.50 to $2 for a serving of coconut water, farmers receive just 11 cents to 20 cents per nut.

Take, for example, the Philippines, which is one of the world's top coconut-producing countries. Despite the booming popularity of their products, nearly 60 percent of the 2 million coconut smallholder farmers there live in poverty.

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