The Indonesian Coconut Forum (FOKPI) has tied up with the Indonesian Institute of Science to conduct several pilot projects designed to diversify coconut-based products in the hope of developing the largely untapped industry.
FOKPI said that although Indonesia is one of the world’s largest growers of coconut palms, the country lags behind regional peers such as the Philippines due to a lack of development in the sector and support from the Indonesian government.
According to data from the FOKPI, 3.8 million hectares of land is used for coconut plantations in Indonesia, with the plantations divided among four million farmers and produce an average of 16 billion coconuts per year. However, the coconuts are under-utilised as only limited derivatives are made from the fruit.
Poppy Dharsono, FOKPI’s Chairperson, said that she has been requesting for some form of support from the Agriculture Ministry for the past 10 years but there have been no development so far. She said support can come in the form of tax incentives or assistance, such as training for farmers and the provision of research funds to develop products derived from coconuts.
She cited the example of the Philippines, which is currently the world’s largest exporter of coconut-based products with about 200 coconut derivatives even though it has fewer coconut plantations than Indonesia.
Romulo N. Arancon, Executive Director for the Asian and Pacific Coconut Community, said that while the agreement was a good start, Indonesia still have a long way to go before it catches up with the Philippines. He revealed that coconut-based exports in the Philippines are valued at US$800 million (S$1.16 billion) to US$1 billion each year.