Coconut Plantings, Rebel Territory, Fresh Coconut Water, and More
I have just returned from an amazing 5-day trip to the Philippines. It has been packed full of adventure and meetings. I spent almost all of my time in the land of coconuts. Mindanao - the largest and southern most – amazing, yet restless island in the Philippines (PH). On my last day, I was in Manila for a meeting with the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) HQ.
On day one my friends at PCA picked me up at the airport. We had a local video guy with us as well …..great footage so far and hope the sound comes out okay. YouTube and Facebook here we come ; )
We went out to a rural area and visited a group of 60 small (average size 2 acres) coconut farmers who have a co-op which we have supported, small-scale compost fertilizer plant with several grants. They are rebuilding their offices and adding a new candy factory. Nutiva recently gave them $750 to work on the candy plant and they need some more $$ to help complete this. We are looking to fund $2500 for new coconut plantings as well. This is part of Nutiva’s vision to give back to the communities we source in. This is one clear way how Nutiva is setting the trend to create win-win commerce thru-out our supply chain. Thanks to you: our dear customers and fans who help make this all possible.
We headed back to the main town of Mindanao where I stayed at a 4-star hotel with many armed guards at the entrance, full-body searches, and enjoyed some great Chinese food…. boiled intestines was an interesting choice on the menu.
The next day we drove about 2 hours to a large coconut growing area… passing by large coconut oil COPRA mills to a town called Padada, where I attended a graduation party for 24 farmers who spent 16 weeks to learn about organic farming, IPM, and small scale coconut processing.
These folks certain know how to celebrate. They performed skits with full dress of ladybugs and coconut pest beetles. They even had someone imitate me on stage and make a fun joke of it ; ) These folks now are really committed to organic and spreading the message of natural farming. Many of them are part of a coconut grower group who we are working to have them trained and funded to produce semi- processed coconut syrup for Nutiva. Also they just planted 35 hectares….ala about 2500 coconut palms funded by Nutiva. This will help them boost their incomes and expand coconut production for their region.
I planted a ceremonial coconut palm and we captured some video footage of one grove of new coconuts. Eating and drinking about 2 coconuts a day.
We drove back after this positive event and went by massive ago banana plantations where arial sprayings of toxic pesticides are a common occurrence. Monsanto and Dow are the big suppliers here. We got this on film, with fisherman catching fish on the river below this toxic banana operation. On the way back we stopped in to visit a family owned coconut firm and discussed having them produce a 100% raw centrifuge coconut oil and perhaps coconut honey as well. Later we went out to dinner to get to know each other better.
Another highlight for me was visiting the first organic center in the PH! Located in down town Davao- the 3rd largest city in the PH.
It’s a small forest in the city center and has a lovely old wooden building built back in the 1930′s. They offer organic class’s to farmers, have a demo worm bin and duck raising.
The Center needs to raise $25K US to renovate the place. Nutiva is offering a challenge match grant of $5K and will work to get other coconut players to kick in $$ as well. Another exciting project for Nutiva to help get going. Education is the key to moving away from using toxic chemicals and allowing farmers to go organic.
Now in a much faster and brand new Toyota truck, our team sped out on a normally 5 hour drive through mountains and rebel areas. We made record time in 4 hours as the driver was a bit of a daredevil ….80 miles an hour around corners and dodging kids, water buffaloes, and pedicabs.
On the one PCA folks joked that on my last trip here I got out of the car for a stretch on a remote area…and this was near the location of the deadly mass killing last week of mostly 60 woman and children by a rival Muslim clan. While checking into my room, the guard had a rifle and was backed up with a another guard 20 steps back.
I don’t really worry about it and part of coconut hunting. I discovered an exciting new organic coconut food product Nutiva plans to roll out in Spring 2010. Super delicious and healthy. For now that’s all I can tell you ; )