The Straits Times
www.straitstimes.com
Published on Feb 05, 2013
 

Philippine farmers hope for coconut craze windfall

 
 

MANILA (AFP) - Philippine farmer Liezl Balmaceda has never heard of Madonna, but the US pop star's endorsement of coconut water may help change her impoverished life for the better.

After centuries of replenishing Filipinos, the mineral-rich liquid has become a must-have health drink thanks to aggressive marketing by a beverage industry looking to offset soda sales that have lost their fizz.

Ms Balmaceda, 33, and her husband process truckloads of coconuts at their backyard each week to get the meat that is turned into vegetable oil. The arduous labour earns the family of five about US$9 (S$11) a day, barely enough to get by.

"We just throw the water away when we extract the copra (coconut meat). But if you tell me people actually pay money to drink it, we could use the extra cash," she told AFP in rural Mulanay town, four hours' drive south of Manila.