Coconut palm cultivation is one of the crops with the greatest growth potential, especially in the Pacific and Caribbean, and one of the most recognized tropical fruits thanks to its refreshing taste, and nutritional and medicinal properties.
Despite being the most cultivated palm in the world, especially in Asian countries, its development in Colombia is still very low when compared to the results the production in Asia or in closer producing countries, such as Brazil.
According to the latest data of the Ministry of Agriculture, national production of coconut amounts to 122,768 tons. Nariño is the main producing department with 50,413 tons and Tumaco is the leading municipality. Nariño concentrates 41.1% of the total and has 7,274 hectares devoted to this crop.
It is followed by Cordoba and the rest of the departments located in the Pacific region: Cauca, Choco, and Valle del Cauca.
Jose Arismendi, the president of the National Coconut Federation (Fedecoco), stated that national production had increased steadily in the last three years due to the eradication of diseased palm trees and the rehabilitation of hectares with state support, and that Nariño, and particularly Tumaco, had consolidated as the biggest producing areas.
Arismendi also said that the national production covered about 80% of Colombia's total demand, and that the remaining 20% was covered by "imports, including of smuggled coconut, mainly from Venezuela and Panama, which harms local producers and may come with poor sanitary conditions."
Promoting this crop, improving yields per hectare (which in Nariño are below the national average), boosting consumption, and increasing its use in the gastronomic chain, are key elements for the sector. In addition, the coconut crops can be a substitute for illicit crops.
Armando Garcia, an agronomist from the National University, said producers "must pay special attention to diseases such as the Red Ring and the Porroca, which can be harmful and lethal."
Asian countries lead worldwide production
Indonesia is the leading producer of coconuts in the world with 18.3 million tons, thanks to the countries tropical conditions. It is followed by the Philippines with 15.3 million; India with 11.9 million; Brazil with 2.8 million and Sri Lanka with 2.5 million. Dehydrated coconut has consolidated as the main export product.