Harvesting coconuts, Java, Indonesia A. Rival © CIRAD


Coconut is primarily grown in the coastal subtropical zones of Asia and Oceania, its region of origin, on small family farms. The nuts, which are available all year round, are consumed in the region in the form of coconut milk. They are also used to produce copra and its by-product, copra oil. Some 10 million smallholders worldwide rely on the coconut value chain for a living, but it faces a range of issues: copra's reduced competitiveness, competition from palm kernel oil, and the development of lethal diseases that can wipe out coconut plantations within a few years. CIRAD is thus working to support the value chain's development.

The market for "eating" coconuts is booming. However, copra, a vital source of income for many farms, is in decline. 

The figures for coconut

12 million hectares planted worldwide
86% of the area planted is in Asia and Oceania
96% of farms are small family units of between 0.5 and 4 hectares
84% of global copra output comes from Asia (Philippines, Indonesia, India)
3 million tonnes of copra oil are produced each year
Less than half of that – 1.3 million tonnes a year – is exported; most is consumed in producing countries

The issues

  • On an agronomic level, controlling pests and above all lethal viral or phytoplasma diseases (lethal yellowing), which affect ever more countries each year.
  • In terms of processing, supporting the development of products with high added value, from a technical, socioeconomic and environmental point of view.
  • In the field of genomics, sequencing the coconut genome.