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 too 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 convert them into some commercially-viable products. Some of the items they have developed include:
Coconut lumber. Coco 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. The spathe, coir, and fronds of a coconut are major components of the coconut fiberboard (CFB). Manufacturers 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. It’s an efficient cleaning tool. In most Asian households, broomsticks are used to sweep and collect the dried leaves on their yard. It’s also used 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 is called walis tingting in Tagalog or silhig in Cebuano.
Usually, the locals make one or two sets of broomsticks for their own use at home. Or, they may produce several bunches of it to sell at the market for additional income.
And with a bit of ingenuity, broomsticks make good Christmas tree, too. In some rural homes in the Philippines, the locals would turn a bunch of broomstick upside down. 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 puso, this meal is the best match for barbecue and roasted pig (lechon). The locals informally call puso ‘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 in 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. The locals 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 consider patronizing recycled products from senile coconut trees?