Magnitude of resource and potential yields
The coconut area in the Asia and Pacific region is presented in Table 1. The estimated coconut area with senile palms as well as the estimated number of senile trees and the projected number of senile trees available for cutting up to year 2015 or beyond are also presented in Table 2.
Indonesia and the Philippines followed by India, Papua New Guinea and Thailand showed large areas with senile palms which are no longer productive and are therefore due for cutting or replanting. Indonesia as well as some of the Pacific Islands (Fiji, Micronesia, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu) have 50 to 60% of their coconut area with over-aged or senile palms. Among the Pacific countries, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Fiji have quite large numbers of coconut trees that need replanting with so much trees that could be processed into coconut wood.
With Indonesia's estimate of about 50% over-aged palms, the country has a coconut wood resource of approximately 185.6 million senile trees which could be cut down and replaced with hybrids and other high yielding varieties. Based on a sawn lumber recovery of 0.30 cubic meter per tree, around 55.7 million cubic meters of sawn wood are available for economic utilization. Assuming that the sawn lumber shall be used for the construction of a typical 60-square meter, 2-bedroom low cost house with a lumber requirement of 15 cubic meters per house, a total of 3.71 million housing units could be constructed out of these wood materials. And if this cocowood resource were spread in a 40-year replanting cycle, still a yearly cocowood resource of 4.64 million senile trees or 1.4 million cubic meters of sawn wood would be available yearly in the next 40 years for economic utilization. This cocowood resource could be used to build some 93,000 housing units per year.
In the Philippines, where coconut wood is becoming widely used in house construction, a cocowood resource of 95 million senile trees would give 28.5 million cubic meters of sawn wood for economic utilization, or a potential of 1.89 million housing units.
The age of a coconut tree can be visually estimated by counting the leaf scars while the volume of the stem is derived in the usual manner from its height and diameter. A typical coconut farm is estimated to have 100 trees per hectare. Coconut wood resource assessment in a given/region area can be done by estimation of the percentage area considered overmature or senile, the tree population per hectare, the replanting or felling rate per year and the wood volume per tree. Other methods of resource assessment involve actual survey in a given area or aerial photography.
It should also be noted that since coconut is basically a smallholder's crop, adequate incentives from government and appropriate policies on cutting and replanting senile and unproductive coconut trees must be in place. To make the resource available, coconut smallholders must be predisposed to cut and replant senile trees, given the necessary incentives, policy support end the required facilities and infrastructure. The investment both from government and the private sector necessary to enable productive use of this resource would certainly use of this resource would certainly contribute to better employment, and additional income for the coconut smallholders and overall economic development in coconut growing countries.
Further details concerning specific countries in Asia and in the Pacific follow below.
Totalling the country level availability reported in the sections which follow, the whole Asia-Pacific region has an estimated number of senile trees of about 371.3 million or 111.4 million cubic meters of sawn coconut wood. This coconut wood supply level would be enough to build a total of 7.4 million housing units. However, it must be noted that the actual availability of this resource depends on the magnitude of the replanting/coconut cutting programmes of the coconut producing countries in the region. These must be adequate incentives for coconut cutting/replanting in terms of income derived from the sale of logs, government and private sector assistance in actual logging operation and subsidies for the new planting of high yielding coconut varieties and hybrids.
Based on the Philippine experience, coconut cutting was greatly influenced by the price derived from the sale of the trunks. This led to the Philippine government's policy of regulating the cutting of coconut trees only in the case of senile, diseased and typhoon-damaged trees. The price of the trunks even encouraged smallholder coconut farmers to indiscriminately cut productive trees.
Coconut cutting or replanting in the many coconut producing countries in the Asia-Pacific region has been proceeding at a very slow rate per year, if at all. Some countries do not yet have an institutionalized coconut replanting programme. Given the necessary boost and with the provisions of adequate incentives, coupled with the pressure of a dwindling conventional wood resource, coconut cutting could proceed in a grand scale thereby making available a tremendously supply of coconut trunk for lumber.
Federated States of Micronesia
Papua New Guinea
In the Philippines, coconut is mainly a smallholder crop. Coconut occupies 23% of the country's total land devoted to agricultural use. Major coconut producing areas are Southern Mindanao, Southern Luzon and Western Mindanao. It has been estimated that coconuts are grown in approximately 1.6 million coconut farms in which 71% of the landholdings are 5 hectares and below, and only about 3% are more than 50 hectares.
As of 1995, the total coconut area is estimated at 3.164 million hectares. Of these about 30 % have already reached senility which consist mainly of palms that are 60 years old and over. Based on this estimate and with an average of 100 trees per hectare, the potential is for around 95 million unproductive and senile palms to be cut and replanted. On the basis of sawn timber recovery of 0.30 cubic meter per tree, a total of 28.5 million cubic meters of coconut lumber would be available for economic utilization. This raw material supply availability does not yet account for the thousands or millions of trees that may be felled due to strong typhoons. On the average, some 25 typhoons at varying intensities hit the Philippines annually.
From approximately 1.8 million hectares in 1970, the coconut area in Indonesia has tremendously increased in the past two decades to 3.71 million hectares in 1995. Coconut area represents around 26% of the entire plantations in Indonesia. Around 95% of the country's coconut area is situated in the islands of Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi, Kalimantan, Nusa Tenggara, and Maluku. Sumatra accounts for some one-third of total coconut cultivation. In the 1970's, coconut growing was 99% smallholdings. In the 1980's, share of smallholdings slightly declined to 97%, with 2% going to privately-owned estates and 1% to government-owned estates. Of the entire area under coconut, 93% is classified as holdings of less than 5 hectares. About 50% of the palms are senile and need replanting.
The coconut area in India has increased from a little over 1 million hectares in the early 1970's to over 1.6 million hectares in 1995 and is anticipated to further increase to 2 million hectares by the year 2000. Coconuts are grown mainly along the coastal belts and some interior tracts. More than 90% of the area under coconut is concentrated in the Southern States of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andra Pradesh. Kerala accounts for 55% of India's total coconut area. Coconuts are mainly grown by smallholders with 98% of the holdings of size less than 2 hectares. About 20% of the palms are both senile and unproductive, and therefore need replanting.
Coconut ranks fifth in Malaysia's agriculture in terms of cultivated area with oil palm and rubber occupying the greater portion. The coconut industry, however, still plays an important role in the country's economy providing livelihood to some 100,000 farm families or almost 10% of the nation's farming community.
In terms of area planted, the highest level was attained in 1982 at 363,000 hectares. Since 1986 at 330,000 hectares, the area planted to coconut was observed to be at a generally decreasing trend reaching to 315,000 hectares level in 1992 and down to 290,000 hectares in 1995.
Coconut in Malaysia is generally a smallholder's crop with 91% under smallholder cultivation and 9% under estate management. Of the total area planted to coconut, 63% is located in Peninsular, Malaysia, 19% in Sabah and 18% in Sarawak. With increasing labour shortage, decreasing productivity of palms and the massive conversion of coconut lands to oil palm plantation and other more profitable crops, the country projects a continuous decline in coconut area at a rate of 2.5-3.5% per year to some 285,000 hectares towards year 2000. It was estimated that about 32% of the total plantings are now well over 60 years old.
Coconut accounts for the second largest land usage in Sri Lanka with about 25 % of the total arable land. As a major commercial crop in the country, the coconut industry provides employment to some 135,000 people involved in the production, processing, and trading sectors of the industry.
The period from 1970 to 1995 saw a gradual decline in area under coconut, from 466,000 hectares in 1970 to 419,000 hectares in 1995. This gradual decline in area under coconut which involved cutting of coconut palms was due to the increasing use of coconut land for urbanization, industry and housing programmes.
Coconut in Sri Lanka is largely under private ownership with a vast majority classified as smallholding of less than 1.2 hectares. The percentage of palms over 60 years of age was estimated at about 15% of the total plantings.
Most of the coconut areas in the country are found in the peninsular provinces or on the shores of the Gulf of Thailand accounting for 80% of total planted area. Coconut farms in Thailand are primarily of the smallholder type with a mean farm size of 2.4 hectares, 80% or more of the holdings being less than 2 hectares.
In the period 1970-1992, the coconut area ranged between 320,000 and 412,000 hectares and is expected to remain stable up to year 2000. The country estimates the present age structure of coconut palms at 60% of the population between 15 and 40 years old, 10% immature or non-bearing and the remaining 30% mainly senile palms. Typhoons also hit the prime coconut producing areas in Southern Thailand and at times cause massive felling of trees. Some of the country's coconut area are also converted into the production of other more profitable crops or into housing development projects.
The coconut industry in Vietnam contributes to the economic welfare of some 10 million Vietnamese, and provides direct employment to some one million people. In 1957, the country had 31,540 hectares planted to coconut which increased to 40,800 hectares in the early 60's. Due to war damage, coconut area decreased to about 35,000 hectares in the early and mid 1970's. The area under coconut henceforth increased reaching a peak of 350,000 hectares in 1990 and has drastically declined to some 186,000 hectares in 1995. The decline in area was due to the shift in land use from coconuts to fruit trees.
Of the total area under coconut, 73% is located in the 9 provinces of the Mekong delta. As a matter of national land policy, private coconut holdings in Vietnam are limited to 0.5 hectares or less, with 60% smallholders, 30% cooperatives and 10% state farms. Since nearly 65% of the area under coconut has been planted after 1983, the majority of the palms are relatively young; senile palms are estimated to be about 10%.
The Federated States of Micronesia has a total land area of 66,551 hectares of which 17,000 hectares are planted to coconut. There are no large plantations, only smallholders with an average farm size of less than 2 hectares. A substantial decrease in coconut area occurred in the last two decades from 30,000 hectares in 1970's to 17,000 hectares in the 90's. This decreasing trend in coconut area is a result of substantial conversion of coconut lands to the production of other crops especially in the State of Kosrae and conversion to housing facilities in the State of Chunk. The existing coconut stands are mainly already senile (60%) or have reached 60 years or more and are therefore due for replanting.
The coconut area in Fiji has gradually declined from 78,000 hectares in 1978 to 64,000 in 1995, of which 60% or approximately 39,000 hectares are already senile or over-mature and are therefore due for replanting. Fiji's current coconut replanting/cutting programme is about 5,250 hectares until year 2000. This means an annual rate of about 1,313 hectares per year. There is only one coconut wood processing plant in Fiji called the Pacific Green Industries. Currently its absorption capacity is at 700 logs per week. It is however willing and capable of increasing its absorption capacity to 100,000 logs per year. Logs are bought on the farm at US$6.00 each, that is at 8ft × 8" diameter. These logs are only made into furniture for the local and export markets.
Coconut occupies about 6% of the country's total land area. Of the total coconut area, smallholder cultivation (less than 5 hectares) accounts for about 6%. From 1970 to 1979, coconut area was maintained at about 265,000 hectares. Currently there are 260,000 hectares of coconut land in PNG, of which 50% of the total plantings are estimated to be senile and unproductive and therefore need replanting.
Area under coconut in Solomon Islands is recorded at 59,000 hectares with a total tree population of about 9 million. Total coconut area is projected to remain stable until year 2000. Of the total coconut area, 65-85% is classified under smallholding with an average of 2.5 hectares per holding. The age structure of the palms is relatively young with about 50% of the existing stands under smallholder cultivation planted in the 1970's. A sizeable area of coconuts was also planted after the second world war. It is estimated that some 20% of the plantings are senile.
Coconuts in Vanuatu occupy some 96,000 hectares or roughly 66% of total land under agricultural use or 18% of the country's total arable land. Of the total plantings, some 20% are under plantations and 80% are under smallholdings, with the steady increase in smallholdings observed towards the 90's. There has been a substantial increase in coconut area from 61,000 hectares in 1970 to 96,000 hectares in 1995. At an annual average increase of 3%, coconut area is expected to be in the vicinity of 120,000 hectares by year 2000. It was estimated that only 7% of plantation coconuts were under 30 years old and about 50% of the plantings are already senile and unproductive. Replanting rate is reported to be at 2.7% per annum especially among smallholders.
The coconut area in Western Samoa has gradually increased since 1970 from 28,000 hectares to a peak of 50,000 hectares in 1987. Since then, the total coconut area slightly decreased due to land conversion and cyclones damage but has now increased to 75,000 hectares through replanting and new planting. More than 80% of the coconut farms are based on landholdings with an average area per holding of 3.64 hectares. The country is also hit by cyclones, the more devastating ones were OFA in 1990 and VAL in 1991, felling thousands of coconut trees. It is estimated that about 16% of the total plantings are 60 years old or over and considered senile.