I grew up on a farm, and our house was under the vastness of coconut trees. Farming was my family’s primary source of income, and coconut is one of our most profitable crops.
Having spent 17 years of my life on a coconut farm has given me a thorough understanding of copra productions. After I have obtained a promising job in Dubai, I bought the same coconut farm that we were tending from my Aunts.
It takes a minimum of 6 years from planting for a coconut to start bearing fruits. If you have vacant farmland and want to start with a coconut farm business, then the best time is now. Otherwise, just like what I did, you can buy a farm with already fruit-bearing coconut trees. In some provinces, P100K – 200K can buy 3-4 hectares of coconut farm.
An adult coconut tree requires relatively low maintenance. Coconuts can thrive even if some other plants are growing nearby. However, coconuts bear more fruits if their surroundings are free from other competitor plants. Some ipil-ipil trees nearby can be a good source of fertilizers for coconuts.
It would be good if you can look after your farm. However, that won’t be necessary to manage your business. In the case of my farm, we have a caretaker who is looking after it. He makes sure that the farm is well maintained, falling coconuts are kept intact and well managed during harvest.
Coconuts can be sold as buko (young coconut fruit) or as husked mature nuts for culinary use. However, copra is the primary product of coconut. It is derived from dried, mature coconut. We employ men to climb the trees to get the fully mature (brown) nuts. Using an ax, coconuts are opened, and meats are scooped out.
Drying of Copra
Coconut kernels should be dried within a few hours from opening to avoid mold formation. Sun-drying is the most common and cheapest method. During rainy days, sun drying can be a bit challenging. In our case, we dry copra by smoking it in a specialized copra dryer hut.
In a predominantly coconut farming province, you can find copra buyers in each town or city. In Leyte, where my farm is located, copra buyers are even present at barangay levels.
To maximize the use of your farmland, intercropping is an intelligent move. Under your coconut trees, other crops can grow. In the case of our farm, we had planted corn, peanut, potato, mung bean, etc. We earn a lot from these crops, too. But if you want a less hassle crop, then plant bananas. Provided that the land is fertile, bananas can grow with less maintenance and give you high yields all year round.
Other Income from Coconut
Coconut is dubbed as the “Tree of Life.” Almost all of its body parts are useful and hold commercial value. A very old coconut tree bears fewer fruits. It would be wise to cut it off and replace it with a new one. This old tree can be turned into coco-lumber, which is a valuable material in building houses.
When I was young, I helped my family to collect coconut shells. After drying, we placed it in a pit, burned it, and covered the hole with a banana sheath before the shells get burned entirely. That’s how we make charcoal. We packed it and sold it to the stores.
The ribs of the coconut leaves are being made as broomstick (walis tingting). It can be a good source of money when mass-produced.
Coconut farming business is an evergreen income source. My farm has been there since my grandfather’s time. It never fails to give us profit except when being hit by a typhoon.
It takes three months from a harvest that another batch of coconut gets mature. So you’ll get to harvest only 4 times a year. As I suggested, it would be better for cross-cropping to get some other source of income out of your farm.
Copra price is heavily dictated by the law of supply and demand. During low yield season, rates are higher as compared to an abundant period. Typhoon is the main profit impediment for coconut farmers. Any weather disturbance can disrupt the fruiting cycle of coconuts. For as long as a coconut tree is up and standing, all you need is to give it some time to recover.
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