The coconut has provided staple nutrition on tropical coasts and island for millenia. It had spread far and wide long before Homo sapiens colonised tropical regions beyond Africa.
Population increase in the West during the industrial revolution led to import of coconut oil for nutrition, soap and body lotion from the mid 19th century. By the early 20th century its value led to a global plantation industry but this never recovered after the Second World War. Soy and oil palm, less costly to produce and aggressively promoted took over while the remarkable health benefits of coconut were dismissed by marketers.
In recent decades what has been clear to indigenous consumers of coconut has been reinforced by extensive research countering the claims of the health advisers in the USA and beyond. A challenge to the dominant paradigm is essential.
About the Speaker
Mike Foale is a tropical agronomist whose early career involvement with coconut in the Solomon Islands led to a lifelong passion. He has since held several senior roles in CSIRO, managing the Cooper Research Laboratory and Field Station at Gatton, as a sorghum physiologist at
the Cunningham Laboratories, and as a Principal Research Scientist at CSIRO’s Agricultural Production Systems Research Unit in Toowoomba.
He has been responsible for significant innovations in irrigation and nutrient management, and the development of instrumentation and participatory techniques for agronomic research. He maintained his interest in coconut as a consultant on ACIAR projects. After retirement in 1998, he has focused on coconut research and consultancies throughout tropical Asia and the Pacific, as a Post-retirement Research Fellow of CSIRO and subsequently as an Honorary Research Fellow in the University of Queensland’s School of Agriculture and Food Sciences.