Philippine Coconuts - The Copra Making Process

Coconut Plantation
Coconut Plantation | Source

Copra Business in the Philippines

The Philippines coconut trees occupy about 25% of its cultivated lands. Therefore a great percentage of people are partially dependent on coconut farms. The Philippines is the second top producer of coconut products after Indonesia, but it is the top exporter of coconut productsor coconut oil in the world. But as of December 2009 according to Wikipedia, the Food and Agricultural Organization Statistic Division has a new semi-official record that the Philippines is the Top producer of coconut products, producing 19,500,000 tonnes, and Indonesia 15,319,500 tonnes.

People there in the Island have sort of a laid back lifestyle. It is very pleasant and peaceful to live in the coconut plantation area. Far away from the hustle and bustle life in the city of Metropolitan Manila, they live peacefully and happily, even if there is not enough income. The air is very clean, far away from pollution. Even if it’s hot, the soft breeze of the wind blowing compensates for the heat and is very cooling. The coconut land owner provides livelihood to those who have no land and want to work for wages. Coconuts are harvested once every 2 or 3 months depending on how much fruit to harvest, and the land owners will hire workers for the harvest season. The number of workers depends on how large is the coconut plantation, usually one or two workers, if it’s only 1 hectare. I appreciate and salute all the workers who harvest coconuts by climbing the trees one by one. In other place where the coconut is still young and shorter they would just use a long bamboo, attached a sharp knife on the tip and use it to cut off the cluster of mature coconut from the top of the tree.

The Copra-Making Process

Copra is the term for the coconut finished product that is ready to sell to the merchant who, in turn, sells to the coconut oil mills. I am going to show you step by step the process of making Copra.

  • Harvesting -

Harvesting coconuts for me is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Some other coconut harvesters might say differently if they use easier methods of harvesting.

This is the method that I know:

To harvest the coconuts, the worker climbs to the top of the tree, and using a sharp, slightly curved knife, cuts down the mature bunch of coconuts, or dislodges them one by one. The worker is expert in deciding which coconut fruit is mature enough to make into Copra. How do they climb the tall trees? When the coconut is younger, during the first harvest, they make a cut on the branch of the tree, alternately from one side to the other side going upwards. This serves as their stepping platforms when they climb the tree.

  • Piling & Hauling

As they climb all the trees, somebody on the ground will be gathering and piling up the coconuts. Using a primitive bamboo cart (no wheels) attached to the shoulder of a Carabao or water Buffalo, they start loading the cart and the Carabao will pull the cart with the coconuts to the work area where they pile them again.

  • Removing Husk

They remove the husk by using a sharp semi-pointed instrument that is made of steel, hand made and attached to wood to give support. The steel is then inserted into the ground very firmly, and by plunging one side of the coconut to the instrument then pushing down and out removing one section of the husk, doing that about four or five times until the entire husk is removed. This is a difficult task that requires strength.

  • Splitting the Coconut in Half

When splitting the coconut, they make sure the line is straight. This is done by using the back of the cleaver to strike the center of the coconut crosswise, quick and strong, while the other hand is holding the coconut steady either against a flat and hard surface or by holding the coconut in the palm. Please don’t attempt this at home if you are not an expert in splitting coconuts.


  • Drying the Coconuts

This can be done in two ways:

- One way is to dry them under the heat of the sun. It will take a little bit longer to dry this way.

- Another way is to heat them with fire. The coconut farmers would build a hut ( bamboo house or a shack) with no walls (just roof and floor) and is about 3 feet above the ground. Then they will pile the coconut halves on the floor of the small hut. After that, they will pile some of the coconut husks on the ground underneath the bamboo hut, but not too much so the hut won’t burn. Use a torch to light the piled coconut husks and keep an eye on the fire. It should be medium to low. When the fire is getting low, add some more husks until the coconut is ready to scoop. They can tell because it will turn brown and will separate a little bit from the shell. But they can’t apply too much heat because it will burn. The bottom pile will be finished first. If the bottom is done, you can stop the fire and let it cool down. Then they will remove the ones that are done and place them in another working area. If some of the top ones are not done, they separate them and heat them again until done.

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  • Scooping The Coconuts from Its Shell and Selling the Coconuts

This is done by using an instrument that slightly curves towards the tip and is semi-pointed. Usually, they are handmade with a wood handle and designed for their comfort. They scoop the dried coconut meat out of the shell. When everything is scooped, they will start to cut them into 4 to 6 pieces for each coconut half. Then it’s time to put the Copra inside the sack and get ready for selling.

If the coconut plantation is far from the road, they will use the same cart and Carabao to pull the cart to transport the sacks of Copra to the nearby main road where there are motorcycles to carry the sacks to the nearby town where they sell the Copra to the coconut merchants.

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Comments 37 comments

Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

That's a fascinating account - thanks for writing it :)

Ipeoney profile image

Ipeoney 6 years ago from USA Author

Hi paraglider thanks for the comment. I love coconut trees because it is part of my childhood years.

katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

This is a great detailed article on Cocunuts and oil products. I use extra virgin Coconut oil everyday for it's health benefits and see great results. Thanks for the added tips. Peace :)

Ipeoney profile image

Ipeoney 6 years ago from USA Author

Hello Katie

Yes Extra virgin coconut oil is really good. Someone recommended it to me when I got my thyroid disorder and I bought one bottle.

Young coconut drinks is delicious too especially during summer

thailandtravel profile image

thailandtravel 6 years ago from Thailand

?How many have a coconut products in Philippine?

And What do they have a coconut products?

Ipeoney profile image

Ipeoney 6 years ago from USA Author

If you mean businesses that manufacture coconut products, we have many of them. As a matter of fact there is some business men who are going to expand the virgin coconut oil business because the demand of the oil went up.

There are many kinds of coconut products, from oil, deseil oil, furnitures, food, delicases, utensils, lumber, building materials, firewood, wine, soap, shampoo, household products. I will write another Hub for this. Lol.

ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Ripplemaker is delighted to say, "I love coconuts and I love our country too" :) Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination. See your nomination right here Be sure to vote and invite all your family and friends to vote for your hub. Anyone can vote. To coconuts and the Hubnuggets!

Ipeoney profile image

Ipeoney 6 years ago from USA Author

Thank you ripplemaker, Oh gosh! I didn't know my coconut was nominated,lol Wow thanks. wohoooo!!

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

Cool hub. Very interesting and well written. Congratulations on your hubnugget nomination. :)

Ipeoney profile image

Ipeoney 6 years ago from USA Author

thank you Denise Handlon. I'm happy for my coconuts lol

toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 6 years ago

Great hub! I love coconuts, and now that I read your hub I love coconuts even more. Congratulations on your be nominated!

Ipeoney profile image

Ipeoney 6 years ago from USA Author

Thanks you toknowinfo. It's truly a tree of life.

It's a very peaceful feeling to see beautiful pictures of coconut trees. I could put some more pictures in this hub.

elayne001 profile image

elayne001 6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

They also make copra in Tonga where we lived for many years. You did a good job of explaining it. Congrats on the nomination, too.

Ipeoney profile image

Ipeoney 6 years ago from USA Author

Thank you elayne001. Where is Tonga at, a tropical country too? Oh okay I just research it, it's at the South Pacific Ocean, Island.

fetty profile image

fetty 6 years ago from South Jersey

Very educational. Makes you appreciate your own job! Congratulations on your nomination, too.

Ipeoney profile image

Ipeoney 6 years ago from USA Author

Hi fetty, Thanks for commenting. Yes it makes us appreciate our own job and life itself, knowing that some people living in another place and times worked hard for their living.

DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 6 years ago from Oakley, CA

Very interesting hub, indeed. I've never been to the Philippines. I was born and raised in San Francisco, but there was a copra plant about 8 miles from where we lived.

We would often go for drives around the city when my dad got home from work. If our outing took us toward the copra plant, we needed clothespins for our noses!

What a horrible stench that operation produced--it permeated the entire neighborhood with a smell I will never forget.

Ipeoney profile image

Ipeoney 6 years ago from USA Author

Hi DzyMsLizzy thanks for the comment. I didn't know there is coconut plantation in California. I live in the midwest. I'm not sure what horrible stench you mentioned. All I remember is the smoke smell. If coconut is dried under the sun there is no smoke smell of course. What sort of operation did they do with coconuts, maybe I'm missing something.

DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 6 years ago from Oakley, CA

No coconut plantations that I know of here...they were probably imported, unless they came from southern CA, where the climate is warmer for more of the year.

I do not know what they were doing..It was a huge building, so they had some kind of artificial drying going on, as San Francisco is not known for very many sunny days...

All I really know is remembering the stink.

Ipeoney profile image

Ipeoney 6 years ago from USA Author

Hi DzyMsLizzy how are you? It could be they were processing oil, like a desiel oil. I never see oil factory so I can't really tell. I wrote another hub this time it's how to make coconut wine.

jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 6 years ago from Philippines

Thanks for writing about one of our best products and the process of making it! I did not realize that you are acquainted with our country.

Your hub makes it easier for me to write the hub about coconuts that I have been planning to write. Anyway, when I finish it, I hope you would allow me to link up.

God bless!

Ipeoney profile image

Ipeoney 6 years ago from USA Author

Hi Jill thanks for the comment. I am acquainted with our country alright, because I grew up there. Yes of course you can link up. You mentioned "acquainted," I was planning to write a tear-jerker Christmas story (at least for me) hehehe -that I will Post before christmas.

mazjohn 5 years ago

how long you can stock a copra in a stockhouse?im curious if you stock for a longtime it will create bacteria.

Ipeoney profile image

Ipeoney 5 years ago from USA Author

Hi mazjohn thanks for stopping by. Well after drying the coconuts and ready to market you donnot stock the coconut in your stockhouse because you have to sell it right away to get the money. It is in the merchant stockroom that the dried coconuts are being stock up for bulk shipments. Because they have to gather lots of the dried coconut before they ship it. The thing is it must be dried vey well before selling it and then the stock room of the merchant who buy it should be clean and must have a good ventilation. It is tough for them because of the high humidity sometimes.

frogyfish profile image

frogyfish 5 years ago from Central United States of America

Informative and interesting hub. The harvesting does sound like hard work...and wonder how many hand/finger cuts occur before experience in shucking the husk?

One comment mentioned coconut oil for thyroid...and it does help evidently assists the body to transform T4 into T3, which is difficult for some with hypothyroidism. Very enjoyable hub and comments!

Ipeoney profile image

Ipeoney 5 years ago from USA Author

Hi frogyfish thanks for your comment. Yes the Virgin coconut oil is good for thyroid. This tree called Tree of Life is really very useful, every part of it, nothing is wasted.

jessyl 5 years ago

hi, thank you for this blog, anyway, my family owns a land with the so called coconut trees planted there and every after three months we harvest the copras. This is the routine every trimester of the year. However, i'd like to improved my family's business can u share something or even suggest something to me? Thank you.

roger 5 years ago

hi! nice and very informative, hope you could also post on how to extract coconut oil, or how to test the copra for its oil content. thank you..

Ipeoney profile image

Ipeoney 5 years ago from USA Author

@jesstl thanks for commenting on my Hub. You know what there are few things you can improve your coconut business, for one thing the coconut plantation lands are fertile. For that reason you can always plant trees or vegetables that can grow well under coconut trees or in a partial sun. That way you will have more income from your fruit trees, vegetables, or even banana trees and bamboo trees. Banana trees can grow easily under coconut trees.

Another thing is if you start using fertilizer for coconut trees, such as salt, coconuts may bear more fruits. You can Google for more types of coconut fertilizers. Usually it is a good idea to raise few animals while tending your coconut land so you will have double income. Animals such as Goats and Chickens.

@roger, sorry I donnot have experience in the extraction of coconut oil or testing copra for it's oil content so I can't help you with that. Although I may be able to write a post through research.

Daniel Milstein 5 years ago

That is so true. As an author and business man, I can relate to how you said "To harvest the coconuts, the worker climbs to the top of the tree, and using a sharp, slightly curved knife, cuts down the mature bunch of coconuts, or dislodges them one by one". I hope more people discover your blog because you really know what you're talking about. Can't wait to read more from you!

Ipeoney profile image

Ipeoney 5 years ago from USA Author

Hi Daniel I used to watch how they harvest coconuts and most especialy I wanted to be the first one to find the seed inside the mature coconut that is about to sprout, until now I never really know what the English term of that "seed" is. So I'll just call it "seed"

theej 4 years ago

wow, it really helped me for my research. does anyone invented a device in making copra?

Ipeoney profile image

Ipeoney 4 years ago from USA Author

Not that I know of. Only heating by fire and drying under the sun. That would be great if someone will invent some easier and faster way to make copra. But it is not really the making of copra or drying that is difficult but the harvesting especially if the coconut trees are older and tall.

jak 4 years ago

we use so much coconut oil now, i am now interested in learning if I should plant a plantation!!!

Ipeoney profile image

Ipeoney 4 years ago from USA Author

It is actually easy to plant coconuts. It grows in most types of soil like sandy soil and even in wet lands as long as the water is not deep. 4 years ago

how can improve the copra industry to municipality of socorro if the price of copras is d evaluated.

Maximo Masendo 4 years ago

Improve the copra prize so that the production will increase

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