Coconut farming has been thriving for centuries across the tropical regions of Southeast Asia. This nutrient-dense fruit transforms itself into various ingredients – be it oil, milk and nectar or simply its natural form of water and meat. Beyond being a kitchen staple, the coconut palm finds several unique ways to be a valuable resource.
Ecological concerns are gradually seeping into every industry’s conscience, bringing the topic of suitability into the spotlight. The co-founder of Copra Coconuts, Ben Minges, spent some time redirecting focus from business goals to environmental responsibility.
How do you think sourcing coconuts is a step in the right direction to curb global warming?
We are still at the onset of the developmental practices and commercial uses of the coconut palm, despite have centuries-worth of knowledge about coconut farming. At Copra Coconuts, we are dedicated towards tapping into the potential of the coconut palm. We want to build long-term solutions centered on coconut-based replacements for products made from materials that contribute to global warming.
For example, heavy deforestation occurs in the process of making charcoal and wood. But if we used coconut shells instead, we would have the perfect alternative with perhaps a better result.
Coconut farming is extremely regenerative as one tree alone can yield over 300 coconuts per month. The tree itself has an average lifespan of 10 years. So, if you look at the larger picture, you have an energy-efficient, long-term solution waiting to be explored.
Can you give us some lesser-known yet impactful applications of coconuts or their by-products?
Coconuts are known as the ‘tree of life’, given how no part of the palm goes to waste. There are versatile uses such as the coir extracted from the coconut husk being to make ropes. Another example is the particle board used for construction. By no means does it have to be processed from pure wood; mature coconuts serve the same purpose more effectively as they naturally bind once heated.
What is Copra’s long-term plan for promoting sustainability?
At Copra, we are constantly innovating and growing our portfolio of coconut-based products that we trust will have a positive impact on the environment. Our vision is to create and sell eco-friendly products harnessed by the resourcefulness of coconuts.
How would you describe Copra’s farming practices?
Sustainability in the coconut industry begins with following clean farming practices. At Copra, we believe that along with protecting nature, it is also crucial to protect the interests of farmers – which is why we make direct purchases from the same farms and ensure that our farmers are offered fair wages.
We mainly source our coconuts from smallholder farms in western Thailand that specialize in the ‘Nam Hom’ variety of coconuts. We work together to develop climate-smart agricultural practices with our farming partners and give them an income stream to further educate their communities.