Coconut - production & trade
Plantations are usually created by planting seeds. Initially they are kept in germination beds until the first leaf unfolds. Once this happens, they are planted out in neat rows in fields.
Harvesting and processingThe first flowers can appear from two to seven years depending on the cultivar and the coconuts can be harvested about a year after this. Coconuts are the most important part of the palm and are usually harvested by nimble tree climbers who cut ripe bunches down.
|Image: Tree climbers require skill and courage to ascend the trunks of palms to cut down coconuts.|
Fallen fruits are also gathered from the ground or might be cut from palms using knives attached to long bamboo poles. Coconut palms can remain productive for 50 to 100 years, though yields are highest at between about 10 and 20 years.
Harvested coconuts are stored until the fibrous husks are completely dry. Then they are dehusked by striking and twisting onto a steel spike that is placed firmly in the ground. This fibre is used to make coir. For desiccated coconut, coconut cream, oils and other processed forms, shells of coconuts are split with a hatchet of knife and the white meat is removed. Oil is made from copra which is the dried meat of the coconut and can be milled to produce cake or oil used in cosmetic, industrial and medicinal products. It is a source of lauric acid used to make common detergents like soaps, though it's facing increasing competition from other oils on the world market. The shells are used for all manner of utensils, vessels, carvings and even charcoal.