Thailand announced the successful implementation of the Regenerative Coconut Agriculture Project (ReCAP) over a period of 3 years, highlighting strong public-private partnership in raising awareness among farmers about nature-based farming solutions.
Transitioning to a regenerative and organic farming model allows farmers to counter the impacts of climate change and has proved that it strengthens the livelihoods of coconut farmers and local coconut farming communities.
The ReCAP project enabled coconut farmers to adapt themselves, to be more resilient and prepare for climate challenges amid increasing market and consumer demand for the aromatic coconut water derived from green supply chains.
Back in June 2020, Harmless Harvest, the Danone Ecosystem association, and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH joined forces to launch the ReCAP project. The project also received extensive support from Thailand’s Department of Agriculture (DOA) and Department of Agricultural Extension (DOAE). It aims to support the transition from conventional coconut farming towards a regenerative and organic one. Transitioning to a regenerative and organic farming model allows farmers to counter the impact of climate change and has proved that it strengthens the livelihoods of coconut farmers and local coconut farming communities.
Through 14 training and practical sessions, Nam Hom coconut farmers and trainers from four provinces (Nakhon Pathom, Ratchaburi, Samut Sakhon and Samut Songkhram) were trained in regenerative organic farming practices and equipped with skills and techniques to enhance the sustainability of their coconut farms while remaining profitable through the adoption of intercropping, cover crops, pollinators, organic pest control and organic fertiliser. 384 farmers completed at least 21 hours of the training, with 27 ‘Master Trainers’ certified.
The most popular activities implemented by the farmers included:
the rearing of bees increased by 25%
the application of organic compost increased by 17%
the adoption of cover crops increased by 15%
the organic matter content (measured to assess soil health) improved by 1.15% among the project’s pilot farmers within 28 months.
To mark the end of the project, a closing ceremony was organised with than 200 people including coconut smallholders and representatives from DOA, DOAE and the German Embassy attending.
Pouchamarn Wongsanga, GIZ Thailand Project Director of Agriculture and Food Cluster, said: “Three years on, a total of 449 farmers were recruited by the project, covering up to 5,781 rai of farmland across four coconut growing provinces. In addition, a total of eight demonstration plots were established in the province where the project was implemented, so that other coconut farmers, local authorities, related agencies and the general public can learn about and visit best practices of the ReCAP project.”
The project also sought ways of transforming coconut waste into economically and environmentally sustainable products. To do so, three compost formulas based on coconut farm waste, including husks and fronds, have been developed. Now, 20% of the project members can produce organic fertiliser. Some farmers use it to fertilise their own orchards and four pilot farmers have set up a business to produce compost for sale.
“Certification of agricultural products could be an approach that encourages coconut growers to bring positive impacts to the environment and their farming communities. The ReCAP project enabled coconut farmers to adapt themselves, to be more resilient and prepared for climate challenges amid an increasing market and consumer demand for the aromatic coconut water derived from green supply chains” said Jirapar Jomthaisong, Advisor to the Department of Agricultural Extension.
“The ReCAP curriculum, compost-making equipment and other assets that will be handed over to DOAE after the project’s completion through local DOAE offices in Nakhon Pathom, Ratchaburi, Samut Sakhon and Samut Songkhram, will be valuable for officials and ReCAP project members to continue practising regenerative coconut agriculture and passing on knowledge to other coconut growers in their communities,” she added.
Mathieu Chaumont, Director of Business Development and Sourcing, Harmless Harvest, emphasised the importance of continuous implementation of regenerative organic coconut agriculture beyond the project: “There is so much more we can accomplish, and we will push forward more intercrops and agri-business skills essential for coconut farmers to improve yields while providing a positive impact on communities’ livelihoods and environment.” The company actively promotes regenerative organic agriculture among coconut farmers and ReCAP is one of its strategies.
Tassanee Samran, ReCAP project member from Ratchaburi, said she focused on the intercropping learned after joining the project. Her farmland does not only have aromatic coconuts but also other vegetables and herbs such as noni trees, parsley and basil, which she could sell all year-round during retirement. Plus, traders come to buy her safely grown vegetables from the garden. She is also in the process of preparing her farmland to meet the qualifications of the Geographic Indicator (GI) certification, to add value to her aromatic coconut products within two years. “Organic soil and compost ensure health, well-being and sustainability of both producers, communities and consumers. We just have to be patient and wait for the outcomes to thrive,” she said.