Cargill, BASF Set Up Philippines Coconut Oil Project

February 20, 2013

The project will improve product quality and expand health care coverage to farmers and their families.

With coconut oil used widely in household cooking and food product manufacture, Cargill (Minneapolis) and BASF (Ludwigshafen, Germany) are developing a program to offer certified sustainable coconut oil while improving the lives of coconut farmers.

Thanks to strategic assistance from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and GIZ GmbH, the two companies are training 2500 smallholder coconut growers in Mindanao, the Philippines to improve the quality and yield of coconut harvests and byproducts. The farmers have begun implementing Good Agricultural Practices and will soon receive specialized coconut driers to improve the quality of their coconut oil and copra (meat), says Cargill. The skills and ingredients obtained by farmers involved in the project are expected to make them eligible for Rainforest Alliance Certification. At the same time, the involved companies will expand health care coverage for the farmers and their families, equating to an estimated 12,500–15,000 newly covered Filipinos.

The implementation of a sustainable coconut oil project harkens to what’s happening with the palm oil industry, where the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil has emerged as a leading standard for environmentally and socially sustainable palm oil. There’s wonder as to whether or not Cargill’s coconut project might eventually resemble the scale of the RSPO.

“We are optimistic about the success of this initial project and look forward to opportunities to increase the scale of sustainable coconut production,” said Steve Fairbairn, EMEA head of external communications for Cargill, in an interview with Nutritional Outlook. “However, the current focus lies on the successful implementation of this initiative.”

The Philippines is a world-leading farmer of coconuts. Approximately 25% of the country’s agricultural land is reportedly used for coconut production.