Saturday, September 10, 2011

Coco Nuts

I caught an article that disturbed me the other day during my morning speed-read news briefing.

The gist of the article was that Philippine coconut farms are aging. Many trees are 50 years old so the trees are heading into decline. Little replanting has taken place. When the trees get old they produce as few as 10 coconuts a year, versus the more robust normal production of 50 to 75 coconuts per year.

The link to the article is HERE.

This is a matter of great concern because global demand for coconut products is expected to continue to build, and it is the nation's number one agricultural export. It provides a lot of jobs. The whole crop is vulnerable to aging. The industry is vulnerable to loss of jobs.

Government officials are perplexed that private farmers are not replanting. They aren't sure of the reason. The article points out that farmers have received government subsidies in the past, and you can draw your own conclusions from that.

I don't know what to make of it. It seems to me there are three possible circumstances in play here:

  1. Coconut farmers are not making any money and are simply milking their product for all they can get. They accept that their farms won't produce much income, so they don't care about production any more.
  2. The farmers are waiting for government money, refusing to plant anew until they get funding for it.
  3. The farmers are stupid.

Well, to me, if they engaged in (2), they are also stupid, for they are not taking care of their own livelihood. So the only non-stupid reason would seem to be they expect to fail anyhow, and are just living with the current plantings.

But even that makes no sense. The effort to replant is so small. All you do is take one coconut every 20 years and cram it in the ground to root and grow as a replacement tree. That is one coconut out of 1,000-to-1,500 dedicated to keeping the farm fresh.


They can cover the cost of the replanting by selling the old tree for wood.

"Holy crocodiledung, Batman."

I have argued in other blogs that the Philippines does not actually engage in agribusiness, but, as with transportation, promotes the farming industry as employment for the indigent. Free land given to non--expert farmers. No equipment. Small farms, none of which is large enough to gain efficiency from large-scale planting and harvesting.

The case of the aging coconut trees rather proves the point, eh?

Like buildings that are built with no maintenance budget, or like trucks purchased for a business with no regard for maintenance cost, coconut farms with no re-growth plan are setting themselves for a direct line to dilapidation. Like so much in the Philippines now. Second rate instead of world class. Worn out instead of fresh. Tired instead of modern.

And I have an opinion about that.

Man, let these farmers fail.

If they can't understand the concept of fresh, strong trees, or can't accept responsibility for re-planting without government handouts, just let them frickin' fail. Let them go broke. Let them starve, I don't care. Then  people with brains can buy the farms for a song and run them for profit.

I'm glad I have reformed and am no longer as outspoken as I used to be. Otherwise I would call them beggar farmers. Whining, excuse-ridden beggar farmers.

But I won't.

I will only say this makes no sense at all to the western mind. Why would you intentionally proceed down a sure path to failure? Why would you not be forever focused on how to maximize yields over the long term.


  1. Yeah I read the article. I brushed it aside until you came up with this. Most farmers in the PHilippines are just tenants. They are toiling the land that they do not own. The share of crops is mostly 50 for them, 50 for the landowner. So, they do not care. When their children grows, they send them to the city as housemaids, houseboys, chauffer or carpenters. Their children send money back to their parents. So parents having a good time getting drunk from morning till sunset.

    If these farmers are landowners, they divide the plot among 10 squabbling, back-stabbing, eng-get children (they usually have plenty of children because in the mountains the only entertainment is sex). So, all these 10 children cannot get their brains together. It's not worth planting coconut if the other child does not want it to spite the others.

    The 10 children have their own 10 squabbling, back-stabbing, eng-get children. So the one hectare is divided by 10 and each share again is divided by 10. They started selling off the land to support their vices .... and that is the end of the coconut story.

  2. I know this because my parents have one big plot in Davao City. Even my dead mother was eng-get that her tenant has a motorcycle and a concrete house and they are breeding like rabbits .... My mother was a religious roman catholic fanatic. I love here, she loves me but we don't see eye to eye when it comes to treating people humanely with little extras. Many thanks to my American influence.

    She sold it to a subdivision developer including the tenants just to rid herself of headaches. The surrounding owners also sold their plot including tenants. Since Subdivision developers has more clout and money they have no problem kicking out these tenants who have stayed there for over 50 years.

  3. There used to be coconut levy. The levy was some sort of tax. Everytime farmers sell copras or cured coconut to the government the govvernment collects a levy. This levy built United Coconut Planters Bank which owns San Miguel which is now owned by the Cojuancos. The case is sooo convulted that I don't know what happened but Cojuanco became rich and the farmers remained farmers. The levy is to support the farmers and tree planting. From there I lost interest because laws in the Philippines is soooo convolutedly confusing and idiot, clueless Philippine Media would rather not talk about it because their papers are owned by the oligarchs that owns the government that oversees the levy.

  4. And there was this news that Europeans banned the import of cured coconut not only from the PHilipines because it is bad for the health .... This is one of the factors that drove down the price of cured coconuts.

    There could be potential in coco water. Because coco water is goot. Goot for the health. But they are not planting. I do not really know why they are not planting. Maybe because it's not worth planting in a small plot. It takes long time before they can harvest. If they can harvest at all it's not really worth it. They'd rather commit crime and spend time in jail than sitting waiting for the harvest.

  5. There was this project by the govoernment back then where each landowner were given male and female cows. In the end all the cows were sold even before they have bred.

    There was also green revolution. Where landowenrs get to win something from the government if they plant something on their land.

    There was also a law that if a land bigger than xxx in area has to be planted else the government confiscates the land ....

    There were plenty of programs ALL FAILURES ...

    The only solution to PHilippine Malady is outsource the government to North Korea or Myanmar.

  6. I love the Philipines. I love the Filipinos despite the derogatory comments I make. My relatives are Filipinos despite they hate me of my advocacy and my sharp tongue. BUT THIS IS THE ONLY PLACE WHERE I FEEL LIKE I AM ABOVE ALL ELSE :) I feel intelligent. I am arrogant. I am untouchable. One call to American Embassy the American F-16 comes swooping down to take me to their safety despite my color. I

    I see all the problems. I DO NOT HAVE THE SOLUTION. Because every Filipino I see is a failure. Gosh.

  7. Mariano,

    Even Manny Pac-man is a failure to you too?

    Sino ang mukhang tanga ngayon? Hahaha!

  8. Mariano, fascinating, about the coconut farms. I see how they can come to be uncared for. I keep the embassy phone number in my wallet and cell phone. I'd probably order up a helicopter, though. Fewer G's.

  9. "Then people with brains can buy the farms for a song and run them for profit."

    This is already happening.

  10. brianitus, that is good to know. Comparatively young people?

  11. Proud Pinoy, I am happy that you find Manny Pacquiao awe inspiring and successful. I cannot see how Manny Pacquiao can cure the maladies of the Filipinos. Manny Pacquiao is only goot as his money goes. Once it's gone, Manny will be history. As you know, Proud Pinoy, Manny Pacquiao cannot even pass elementary algebra how much more numbers and zeros in millions. The next morning he'll wake up his money managers are rich Manny Pacquiao will not be congressman, his money is gone and he'll be back to his old haunt and friends nowhere to be found.

    Briantus, Yeah, they buy the farms for a song and turn them into subdivision. This is what happening to filipino's rice lands. They are now importing rice because the rice paddies has become concrete jungles ribboned with asphalted streets.

  12. Hi, Joe. From what I've seen, I think most who gobble up farmlands are relatively younger. Those who lose their farms end up as laborers. However, as more of these big farmers look at profit, some of them might start to look at becoming more efficient. If that'll be a future trend, then we'll end up with a lot of jobless laborers.


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