Nam Hom coconuts (or aromatic coconuts) are grown on the farm of Ms. Nuanla-or Dherdkiattikun. These coconuts are cultivated exclusively in the so called “Nam Hom Provinces” including Nakhonpatom, Ratchaburi, Samutsongkram, Samutsakhon provinces in central Thailand. These provinces are known for their exceptionally fragrant water. Nuanla-or’s farm looks like many other coconut farms in the area. The coconut palms are planted in rows, each bordered by an irrigation canal. The ground between the palms is mostly covered with old palm leaves and remains of coconut shells. Farms like this are often found in the area.
However, on Nuanla-or’s farm, a lot have changed within a few months. She is one of the 13 pilot farmers who, as part of the Regenerative Coconuts Agriculture Project (ReCAP) launched in June 2020, will be designing the working methods on her farm according to the Regenerative Organic Agriculture approach. ReCAP is financed by Harmless Harvest and the Danone Ecosystem Fund and implemented jointly by Harmless Harvest Thailand and GIZ.
Regenerative Organic Agriculture is a holistic approach that incorporates farming principles which restore the whole ecosystem and improve natural resources instead of exhausting them. In the implementation of these principles, great importance is attached to achieving closed nutrient cycles, the reduction or elimination of biocidal chemicals, greater crop and biological diversity, fewer annuals and more perennials and practices that mimic natural ecological processes. But Regenerative Organic Agriculture is more than that: Besides the agricultural practices and the focus on soil health, it also focusses on social fairness and animal welfare. Based on the principles of this approach, the Regenerative Organic Certification (ROC) was established in 2017 as a new certification for food, fibre and personal care ingredients.
The objective of ReCAP is to support and train 350 coconut farmers to grow their coconuts according to regenerative organic practices. By adopting these practices, the soil health of the farms will be significantly improved so that coconut palms can be grown here for many generations to come. In addition, the farmers learn about basic business skills, enabling them to diversify and increase their income. Furthermore, the plan is to establish an entity that supports continuous development of regenerative organic farming practices in the project area.
During the training, the farmers learn how to reduce their risks against market price fluctuations, keep their soil healthy, and positively impact climate change through regenerative practices. Nuanla-or, one of the pioneering farmers who decided to join the project, is very happy with the first training sessions that took place in October 2020. “I am proud to be the pilot farmer. The training exceeded my expectations. After the training, I will implement in my farm according to what I have learned, and I will set up a learning centre to share the knowledge with other farmers,” she says.
Nuanla-or and the other pilot farmers have transformed their farms to ones that are filled with healthy coconut palms, various delicious intercrops (think bananas, coffee, pepper, and more), honey from stingless bees and soil that will be enriched by cover crops. The coconut water will still taste delicious – only the way of cultivation will have changed. This will be done in a way that will be both climate and farmer friendly.