Senile coconut trees are still economically sound even beyond their fruit-bearing years. It only takes ingenuity to make them useful. Locals in the Asia-Pacific region turn these waste into items that generate extra income for them.
Coconut trees are productive up to 80 years of its life. Beyond this period, they have to be cut down to make way for high yielding varieties. But instead of leaving them in the fields to rot, the locals in the coconut-growing countries convert them into some useful items.
Commercial products from senile coconut trees
Coconut farmers in the Asia-Pacific region know so well that rotten coconut trees are a breeding ground for pests, rodents, and insects – intruders that are unwanted in their farms and homes! And so, to minimize the waste from fallen coconut trees, the locals sell the coconut raw materials to manufacturers who convert them into some commercially-viable products.
Some of the items that can be had from the otherwise unproductive coconut tree include:
Lumber. Coconut lumber is now considered a viable alternative to hardwood. Several suppliers and manufacturers are already making this a profitable business as demand for this type of wood continues to grow. It costs much less than the conventional hardwood.
Coconut fiberboard. Manufacturers use the spathe, coir, and fronds as major components of the coconut fiberboard (CFB). They mix these fiber components with shredded wood and Portland cement to come up with some basic construction materials. Particularly, they make bricks, tiles, asbestos, cement hollow blocks, and plywood out of these components.
Charcoal. The coconut trunk and other sawmill residues are found to be a good source of charcoal and for energy. In the Philippines, particularly, the agriculture sector converts the coconut trunk charcoal into briquettes for greater strength and density. There’s now an increasing demand for these briquettes abroad.
Broomsticks. The central vein that holds the coconut leaves together is by no means the least useful part of the coconut tree. Locals in the coconut-growing countries know that there’s money in this part of the tree. By stripping off the leaves, they can make an effective cleaning tool out of the midribs. They then sell the bunches of midribs in the local market for additional income. Most Asian households use broomsticks to sweep and collect the dried leaves in their yard. They also use it to remove the cobwebs and other dross.
Broomsticks are called by different names in southeast Asia. Indonesians call it sapu lidi. While in the Philippines, it’s called walis tingting in Tagalog or silhig in Cebuano.
Knowing Filipino ingenuity, broomsticks have also become a common Christmas item. In some rural homes in the Philippines, the locals would turn a bunch of broomstick upside down. Then they meticulously decorate it with whatever comes up to their fancy. And… voila! You’ll be surprised at how the humble broomsticks transform into a beautiful Christmas tree.
Palm Sunday fronds. Coconut fronds are most in-demand on Palm Sunday. Catholic believers, particularly in the Philippines, use them for palaspas or decorated palm fronds.
Firewood. Bundles of dried coconut palms are a common sight in rural Philippine markets. The locals use them for firewood.
Food wraps. Aside from its seasonal demand during Lent, the palm fronds are also used to wrap foods. Some regional delicacies in the Philippines are contained in coconut leaves. In the Visayas and Mindanao regions, it’s common to see ready-to-go steamed rice in the market or at the barbecue stands. Locally called pusô, this meal is the best match for barbecue and roasted pig (lechon). The locals informally call pusô “hanging rice” because they are displayed in the market exactly that way – hanging in bunches!
Toothpicks and other uses. Did you know that some of the toothpick brands on the market are made of coconut midribs? Not only that! Midribs have also been used as barbecue skewers and brushes. They make beautiful home decors, too.
Novelty items. The brown fiber (guinit or ginit) that wraps around the coconut palms makes a strong material for some novelty items. Local manufacturers recycle them into fans, handbags, wooden bakya slipper straps, and many other home decors. In the olden times, helmets and caps were made out of guinit too. Although, these items are rarely seen now, if there is still any, at all.
With a bit of ingenuity, senile coconut trees can still be recycled into some income-generating products. By doing so, we reduce a few carbon footprints.
Would you, then, consider patronizing recycled products from senile coconut trees?
You see, the coconut tree is not called “the tree of life” for nothing. Explore this site for more articles on the coconut.
You might also be interested in the coconut ketogenic diet. Dr. Bruce Fife, a certified nutritionist, writes about the benefits you can get from coconut. Check out “The Coconut Ketogenic Diet” and let the book guide you on how to enjoy rich, full-fat foods and losing weight at the same time without counting calories or suffering from hunger.