The Regenerative Coconuts Agricuture Project (ReCAP) in Thailand has the primary aim of supporting coconut farmers growing fresh coconuts according to regenerative organic agriculture.
Nam Hom coconuts, or aromatic coconuts, are a special variety from Thailand that are known for their exceptionally sweet water and meat. The Nam Hom variety was discovered first in the Chaisi province of Thailand, and is a mutant of a standard Thai dwarf variety called Musi Khiao. The aromatic variety is today grown mainly in the Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkhram, Nakhon Pathom and Ratchaburi provinces.
The commercialization of these coconuts was initially promoted to cater to the expanding tourism industry in Thailand, providing small landholders (with one to three hectares) a higher income, compared to growing coconuts for copra production. The demand for these fruits grew steadily, and as coconut water became famous for many health benefits, it not only gained popularity among local tourists, but demand abroad skyrocketed. The export value of Nam Hom coconuts rose from 35 million USD in 2011 to 60 million USD in 2015 (Thai Ministry of Commerce). The top importers of Nam Hoc coconuts are United States, China, Australia and Singapore, respectively.
To meet the surge in demand for both domestic and international markets, farmers have turned to monocropping and the use of heavy chemical inputs to increase the yields of their coconut palm trees. Whilst these unsustainable practices produce high yields in the short-term, they cause many environmental problems ranging from soil erosion to loss of biodiversity. By solely relying on one crop, farmers are also extremely vulnerable to fluctuating market prices, which puts the livelihoods of farmers and farm workers at risk. Furthermore, there is a general lack of support structures for farmers that equips farmers with the know-how and training on sustainable agricultural practices, and that can provide a reliable network to suppliers of organic inputs.
In order to develop and incentivise more sustainable practices of coconut farming, the idea of the Regenerative Coconuts Agriculture Project (ReCAP) was born. Danone Ecosystem is teaming up with Harmless Harvest and the German development agency GIZ to make coconut farming in Thailand more sustainable for its farmers and the planet.
The goal is to transition 70% of the selected farmland to regenerative agriculture by 2023. To engage the change, 350 farmers will be trained over the project’s timeframe, on topics such as farming as a business, soil health, pest management, organic fertilizer, and regenerative organic practices.
Under the photography, some of the project's ambitions.
women with increased revenue