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Soap Production 0708

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Coconut As a New Source of Income
Sharon Jeon


Description and Rationale





Cocos Nucifera, commonly known by its English name coconut, is one of the most useful tree in the world. In fact, only about an inch of the tree is thrown away. The origin of the coconut is still unknown, but today, coconuts can be found in tropical lowland areas where there is sufficient amount of sunlight and water. This includes the Philippines. Coconut trees are huge and provide people with food, drink, medicine, clothing, and shelter. Other than this, coconut trees provide people with financial security. However, in the provinces where coconut trees are abundant, many people still struggle to make a living. From extensive research and observations, people are finding that the coconut oils could be used to make body scrub as a new source of income.


In the provinces, there are many families that are poor. Due to the lack of money, many kids do not get proper education. Some kids go around begging for money while others go along the streets selling sampaguitas. Many people dont wear proper clothing and a lot of them go around barefoot.


In the city, body scrubs are sold at high price ranging from $10 to $117 depending on the brand and the ingredients used. They are usually used in spas and at home. If this project proves to be successful, this could be a new source of income for the people living in the provinces.


To make body scrub, the primary ingredients are pounded rock salt and oil. Would coconut oil make a good quality body scrub? Upon research, I found that coconut oil helps prevent skin cancer, allergies, wrinkles, etc. If people knew the benefits of the coconut oil, would they want to buy body scrub made from coconut oil instead of body scrub made from popular brands? How much could the body scrub be sold at? Would the body scrub be a good source of income for the people living in the provinces? What are all the other benefits of the coconut oil? Does it help us relieve our stress? What are the nutrients in it? If the coconut oil is mixed with the salt, could the salt possibly decrease the benefits of the coconut oil? How long does it take to make a body scrub?


If the body scrub proves to be successful, how could we let all the people in the provinces know about this new source of income? How could we let them know the benefits of the coconut? Could this improve the livelihood of the poor people in the provinces?


The initial purpose of this project will be to research the benefits of the coconut and inform the poor people how to make body scrub from coconut oil as a new source of income. This will be accomplished through a search of the literature as well as firsthand observations and hopefully interviews with people experienced in this business. These initial findings will help guide the experimental phase where I will explore more about the benefits of coconut and introduce this new source of income to the poor people living in the provinces.


It is hoped that this new source of income will help the livelihood of the poor people living in areas where coconut trees are abundant.


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Common Names and Synonyms



Cocos nucifera is commonly known by its English name coconut. To the early Spanish and Portuguese explorers, it was called coco, meaning goblin. This was because the three sunken holes, supposedly the eyes on the hairy nut, resembles the face of a grinning goblin. Some people translate coco as “monkey face.” Other synonyms of coconut in English includes Porcupine Wood (the hard trunk wood), Coire (the husk fibre), and Copra (the dried endosperm). In the Philippines, native speakers call coconut buko. In France, coconut is also called Cocotier (the tree) and  Noix de Coco (the nut).




Kingdom: Plantae (plants)

Phylum: Magnoliophyta (flowering plants)

Class: Liliopsida (monocots)

Order: Arecales (palm)

Family: Arecaceae (palm)

Genus: Cocos (coconut palm)

Species: C. nucifera (nut-bearing)




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Morphology and Physical Description






The coconut tree is a large palm tree that can grow taller than 29 meters. The tree consists of a large, light-grayish brown trunk topped with long pinnate leaves. The trunk of the coconut tree is usually straight and upright; however, it could also be curved and leaning.

The feather-shaped pinnate leaves of the coconut tree can measure up to 5.5 meters long and 1.8 meters wide. On the other hand, the leaf stalks are spineless and range from 0.9 to 1.5 meters in length. The coconut fruit has an ovoid shape, and it can grow up to 38 centimeters long and 30 centimeters wide.

The coconut fruit is the largest kind of fruit seed. It is green when it is ripe and turns brown as it ages. The outermost layer of the coconut fruit consists of a thin, hard husk called the “epicarp.” Inside the outermost layer, there is a thick fibrous layer called the “mesocarp.” Then surrounding the spherical nut, there is a hard, hairy shell called the “endocarp.” The spherical nut inside the coconut fruit approximately ranges from 15 to 20 centimeters in diameter and 25 to 30 centimeters in height. At one end of the nut, there are three sunken holes composed of softer tissues called “eyes.” Inside the nut there is another thin, brown layer called the “testa,” which the white layer known as the “meat” or copra clings onto. It is soft and jelly-like. Finally, the innermost part of the coconut is hollow. It consists of watery liquid called the “coconut milk.” 


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Getting Food


Coconut plants need sufficient amount of water, sunlight, fertile soil, and carbon dioxide. Like all other green plants, the coconut tree gets its food by photosynthesis. Photosynthesis happens when light is absorbed by the chlorophyll in the coconut leaves. Then by breaking down carbon dioxide and water from the leaves, the light energy is converted into chemical energy in the form of a carbohydrate, also known as sugar. During this process, the plant releases oxygen. The coconut tree uses the carbohydrates as energy to grow and carry out cellular respiration.




 It takes patience and diligence to plant a coconut. First, like all other sprouting seeds, the coconut fruit needs to be soaked in water for two to three days. Then in a pot big enough to fit the coconut, big pieces of stones or gravels need to be placed in order to drain the water easily. On top of the stones and gravels, about two inches of soil should be added. Next, the coconut fruit needs to be placed on top of the soil with the pointed end facing up. More soil should be added to the coconut until about half of the coconut is covered. When all of these are done, the pot should be placed in a warm place where there is sufficient sunlight.

Until the plant begins to sprout, ample supply of water should be given to the coconut husk every day. Sometimes, it takes longer than six months for the plant to sprout. Until the seed sprouts, the coconut is nourished from the white meat inside. When the white roots start showing after about a year, the coconut fruit can be transferred into a large tub or in the yard.

On the other hand, coconut tree can reproduce by natural means. It has been discovered that the coconut fruit can float in water and travel for a long distance. Provided that there is sufficient amount on sunlight and water, the coconut fruit can germinate and grow into a new coconut plant once it reaches shore.


Environmental Factors


Coconut trees can be located mostly in wet, tropical lowland areas where there is sufficient amount of sunlight and ample supply of water (rainfall). They can be found in tropical areas with a pH range between 4.3-8.0. It is best adapted to an annual temperature ranging between 21-30°C with uninterrupted 4-12 months of time without snow, provided by 60 mm of rainfall every month. 

Coconuts are affected by numerous fungal diseases, bacterial infections, and virus-like diseases. Among these, the virus-like disease known as the “cadang-cadang” is most serious. Other than diseases and infections, coconuts are attacked by nematodes and insect pests. The black beetle, also known as the rhinoceros beetle damages the buds of the coconut, reducing the nut yield. Other diseases and pests includes Aphelenchoides cocophilus (red ring disease), Cephalosporium lecanii, Diplodia epicocos, Endocalyx melanoxthanus, Endoconidiophora paradoxa (leaf-bitten disease, leaf scorch, stem-bleeding), Pellicularia koleroga (thread blight), Pestalotia palmarum (gray leaf spot, leaf-break), Phomopsis cocoes (on nuts), Phyllosticta (on leaves), Physalospora fusca (on leaves), P. rhodina (on roots and trunk), Phytopthora palmivora (bud rot, leaf drop, wilt), and Pythium sp. (wilt).

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Origin and Distribution


Although the origin and distribution of coconut tree is unknown, most people claim that it originated from South Asia, particularly near the Ganges Delta. On the other hand, some people claim it to have originated from Northwestern South America. In New Zealand, fossil records from 15 million years ago indicate that small, coconut-like plants grew in the region. However, older fossil records have been discovered in Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Maharashtra (India). But the oldest fossil record uncovered so far was in Khulna, Bangladesh.

Today, most coconut trees can be found in tropical regions, mostly along the sandy shorelines. Most coconuts have probably been introduced to tropical regions by sea-faring voyagers. But it has been discovered that coconut trees could also have been introduced to tropical countries by natural means. The coconut fruit can float in water for a long time and can still germinate and grow into a new coconut plant once it reaches shore after traveling for a long distance. 

Most commercial plantings can only be done in tropical lowlands, but recent research says that coconut trees can grow in warmer, subtropical areas.


Importance to People



Coconut tree is important to people in the tropical areas, including the Philippines. In fact, it is considered as the most useful tree in the world. It provides food, drink, clothing, shelter, and financial security. Especially in the Philippines where many families rely on the coconut tree for survival, only about an inch of the tree is thrown away.

The white coconut meat is edible and is known to be highly nutritious. It is known to contain coconut oil for people to use for cooking. Coconut oil can also be used to make lotion, shampoo, soap, shaving cream, lipstick, moisture cream, and suntan lotion.

Coconut can also be a source of medicine for the people living away from the city. Young coconut juice relieves fever, headache, stomach upset, diarrhea, and dysentery. It also strengthens the heart and can be used as a substitute for glucose.

The husk, shell, trunk, fruit, fronds, and leaves of the tree are also very useful. The hairy husk is used to make rope or twine and is known for its durability. It also provides fuel for cooking and fiber for making clothes. The shell can be burned for fuel and can be used as a bowl or cup. It can also be carved into other utensils such as spoons, forks, combs, needles, etc. The fronds can be used to make hats, baskets, fans, brooms, belts, and chairs. In fact, palm leaves can be women together to make roofs. The roots of the tree are also used. They can be boiled to make dye. Finally, when the tree can no longer produce coconut fruits, it can be cut down to make furniture.



Survivability and Endangered Status



 Coconut trees are strong and survive fairly well. The resilience of the coconut tree is medium. However, like many other trees, coconut trees have been threatened by human intervention. Due to wood-chopping, urbanization, mining, and conversion to farmland, habitats for the coconut trees are being destroyed. It is known that if major changes occur in the habitat, it makes it rare for the coconut trees to reproduce again. Now, at least 100 species of palm trees are endangered, and nine species have recently been extinct.

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Potential Solutions


Can the use of the coconut become a good source of income for the poor people living in the provinces? It has been proven that the coconut tree is one of the most useful trees in the world. In fact, only about an inch of the tree is thrown away. With all the benefits and nutrition of the coconut, housewives could make many useful things from it, which only requires accessible ingredients. They could sell it in the market to help increase their family income. The coconut can benefit the poor people living in the Philippines in several ways. Presented below are four possibilities along with the advantages and the disadvantages of how the coconut could be used as a source of income.


Possibility 1



 - A Coconut Cookbook


Coconuts are very nutritious. They contain rich fibers, minerals, and vitamins. One coconut contains meat, juice, and oil that the people can eat. However, aside from eating the coconut in the usual way they could use it in a variety of dishes. If we create a cookbook about the different ways to cook the coconut with accessible ingredients, people in the provinces could make them and possibly sell them.



1. The housewives could make the food at home and sell them in the market.

2. If they eat the same food everyday, they would get sick of it. Therefore, with a cookbook that contains different ways of cooking the coconut, the people will not only be nourished but they would also have different options to cook the coconut.



1. They might not be able to buy or find some ingredients listed in the recipe.

2. They might be allergic to some of the ingredients in the recipe.

3. They might not be able to read the cookbook (especially if it’s in English).

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Possibility 2


- Making Virgin Coconut Oil (Action Step)


Making Virgin Coconut Oil is an easy process and only needs some grated coconut, a pot, and a grinder. People buy coconut oil for many purposes. My mom buys coconut oil because my brother has skin allergy. It has been proven that coconut oil has good medicinal properties. It helps treat asthma, baldness, bruises, burns, colds, constipation, cough, dropsy, dysentery, earache, fever, flu, gingivitis, painful menstruation, kidney stones, lice, malnutrition, nausea, rash, scabies, scurvy, skin infections, sore throat, swelling, toothache, tuberculosis, tumors, typhoid, ulcers, upset stomach, weakness, wounds, etc. It also provides people with energy. To make coconut oil, I grated the coconut meat from the coconut. Then I added warm water to it. Afterwards, I extracted the coconut milk by pressing the grated coconut in between my palms. Lastly, I poured the milk in a pot and boiled it until the oil separated from the milk.



1. Since many people use coconut oil, this could be a good source of income for the people living in the provinces.

2. If they get sick and don’t have money to buy expensive medicines, they could use the coconut oil. Since coconut oil is pure and natural, they wouldn’t have to worry about any side effects.

3. After the oil separates from the milk, they could use the latter to make rice cake and other native dishes/delicacies.




1. If people were diagnosed with symptoms that the coconut oil can’t heal, they would have to look for other alternatives.

2. Since it takes time to boil the coconut and see the oil separate from the milk, it requires a large amount of gas.


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Possibility 3


- Making Body Scrub Out of Coconut Oil (Action Step)


The ingredients required for body scrub are cheap and can be found easily in the provinces. In the city, body scrubs have gained popularity as an exfoliant that rubs off dead skin cells and nourishes the skin at the same time. They are used in spas, homes, etc, and they are quite expensive. Upon checking the prices at “Amazon.com,” I found out that the prices of the body scrubs ranged from $10 up to $117 depending on the brand or ingredients used. If the housewives make the body scrubs at home out of natural ingredients and sell it in the market, it could be a good source of extra income for them. On the other hand, coconut oil is also very good for the skin. It’s one of the most renowned moisturizers that help the skin become smooth and soft. Other than this, it prevents skin cancer, premature aging, wrinkles, and allergies. I made two different body scrubs using coconut oil: a milk body scrub and a kalamansi (native lemon) body scrub. For the body scrub, I pounded rock salt until it was fine. Then, I added a spoonful of coconut oil into the pounded salt. After mixing them together, I squeezed some kalamansi juice into the mixture. Finally, I added a drop of food coloring into the body scrub to give it color.








1. This could be a good source of income for the people living in the provinces. Even at home, the housewives could make body scrub out of coconut oil and sell it. They can earn money without sacrificing their duties and leaving the comforts of their home.

2. Instead of just letting the kids play outside where accidents are bound to happen, the housewives could let them help out by pouring, pounding, and mixing the ingredients. This could help get the kids off the streets.

3. In Proverbs 10: 4 it says, “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.” Like what the verse says, people who work diligently will be rewarded from God. We should never forget that we reap what we sow. If we work hard, we will receive the rewards. On the other hand, if we become lazy, we will suffer the consequences. In whatever we do, we should always do our best.



1. While pounding the rock salt, the kids could get injured. They might accidentally pound their finger, or the granules of salt could get into their eyes if they are too close to it.

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Amazon.com, s.vv. “Body Scrub,” at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw/102-2915734-9266548?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=body+scrub.


Coconut-Info.com, s.vv. “Coconut,” at http://www.coconut-info.com/.


Coconut Research Center, s.vv. “Coconut,” at http://www.coconutresearchcenter.org/.


Ethno Botanical Leaflets, s.vv. “Cocos Nucifera,” at http://www.siu.edu/~ebl/leaflets/coconut.htm.


Fife, Bruce. E-mail Interview. 1 May 2008.


Floridata, s.vv. “Cocos Nucifera,” at http://www.floridata.com/ref/C/cocos_nuc.cfm.


Free Beauty Tips.US, s.vv. “How To Make Body Scrubs,” at http://www.freebeautytips.us/83/body- scrubs.htm.


The Coconut Palm, s.vv. “Cocos Nucifera,” at http://www.dipbot.unict.it/Palms/Descr01.html.


The World Book Encyclopedia, 2006 edn., s.vv. “Coconut.”


Turneffe Coconut, s.vv. “How To Make Coconut Oil,” at http://turneffecoconut.com/making.html.


Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia, s.vv. “Coconut,” at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coconut.








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