New Grameen Foundation program to improve livelihoods of 25,000 Filipino coconut farmers, positively impacting climate change

Manila, November 22, 2022 - Grameen Foundation in partnership with Barry Callebaut, the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products, has launched a five-year program in the Davao region of the Philippines that is designed to improve 25,000 smallholder farmers’ copra production and incomes and connect them to markets, while ensuring positive social and environmental impacts. The Sustainable Coconut Project is funded by Barry Callebaut, in support of its Sustainable Coconut Oil Strategy and the Sustainable Coconut Oil Charter.

Coconut oil, produced from copra, is found in most confectionery products. Currently, coconut production is unable to keep up with global demand. In the Philippines, aging trees, fragmented and untraceable supply chains, pests, diseases, and climate change contribute to low production. Further, Filipino coconut farmers’ yields and incomes suffer from poor extension support, low adoption of GAPs (good agricultural practices), lack of access to technology and financial services, and low resilience to natural disasters. While farm cooperatives work to support coconut farmers, their effectiveness is compromised by low adoption of digital tools, lack of financial and operational resources, and failure to include female farmers.

“The Sustainable Coconut program will leverage Grameen’s extensive experience improving the productivity, income, and resilience of Filipino coconut farmers, as well as our wide range of digital solutions and training content, to comprehensively address the barriers cooperatives and farmers face,” said Zubaida Bai, President and CEO of Grameen Foundation.

Oliver von Hagen, Global Director Sustainable Ingredients at Barry Callebaut, said: “As part of our commitment to 100% sustainable ingredients by 2025, we strive to achieve a sustainable coconut and coconut oil value chain. Thanks to this project and the partnership with Grameen Foundation, we get closer to this goal and create concrete impact on the ground, improving the livelihoods of thousands of farmers.”

Grameen began the program earlier this year with a baseline and market assessment in the Davao region, where they’ll be working with eight cooperatives, 35 field agents, and 25,000 farmers. The assessment, which surveyed 1,007 coconut farmers, found that:

  • Coconut productivity in the region is considered low at 32 nuts per tree per year (Grameen Foundation, 2022) while the ideal productivity is 75 nuts per tree per year (Moreno et al., 2020).
  • About 90% of the farmers heavily rely on cooperatives and/or local traders for their working capital through cash advances or loans.
  • The average age of the survey participants is 60 years old, and the average age of a coconut tree in this region is 43 years old.
  • The annual average income from copra activity is $1,400 annually.
  • Agri-cooperatives play a crucial role as aggregators of smallholder farmers, especially in scaling and achieving business-to-business dealings with institutional markets.
  • Women have untapped potential, which can be utilized in the agriculture sector, particularly in farm management, financial management, and product quality control. Leveling the agricultural playing field and empowering women to actively participate in farm business decisions can result in long-term benefits for the farm and their families.

Grameen also held a solutions workshop in September in Davao City with key stakeholders, ranging from farmers and cooperative members to government agents and copra buyers. There, they held discussions on interventions to increase farm productivity and improve copra production, as well as increase access to finance, copra markets, and resiliency of farming households.

As the program moves toward the training and deployment of extension workers to provide digital advisory services to farmers, Sustainable Coconut will use Grameen Foundation’s innovative FarmerLink solution. The platform provides farm data collected by field agents to help smallholder farmers increase productivity, deal with crop pests and diseases, improve quality, and increase the sustainability of their farms. Through this digital solution set, field agents are mobile-equipped to educate GAPs to farmers. FarmerLink includes a collection of farmer profiles and farm-level data to measure progress of farmers in the program.


About Grameen Foundation

Grameen Foundation is a global nonprofit whose mission is to enable the poor, especially women, to create a world without poverty and hunger. In collaboration with our partners, we harness the power of digital data to create tech-forward tools for self-sufficiency and deliver them through local Community Agent networks. The Grameen Foundation Model is transformative regardless of Internet access, smartphone ownership, or the ability to read. More information about Grameen Foundation is available at

About Barry Callebaut Group (

With annual sales of about CHF 8.1 billion (EUR 7.8 billion / USD 8.6 billion) in fiscal year 2021/22, the Zurich-based Barry Callebaut Group is the world’s leading manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products – from sourcing and processing cocoa beans to producing the finest chocolates, including chocolate fillings, decorations and compounds. The Group runs more than 65 production facilities worldwide and employs a diverse and dedicated global workforce of more than 13,000 people.
The Barry Callebaut Group serves the entire food industry, from industrial food manufacturers to artisanal and professional users of chocolate, such as chocolatiers, pastry chefs, bakers, hotels, restaurants or caterers. The global brands catering to the specific needs of these Gourmet customers are Callebaut® and Cacao Barry®, Carma® and the decorations specialist Mona Lisa®.
The Barry Callebaut Group is committed to make sustainable chocolate the norm by 2025 to help ensure future supplies of cocoa and improve farmer livelihoods. It supports the Cocoa Horizons Foundation in its goal to shape a sustainable cocoa and chocolate future.


Jennifer Doak-Mathewson, Director of Marketing and Communications, 202-996-3496 |

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