LEANDRO JOSÉ HENZ, OLIVER HENSEL, KARLHEINZ KÖLLER
University of Hohenheim, Agricultural Engineering in the Tropics and Subtropics, Germany
For small scale farmers in north-eastern Brazil the cultivation of the coconut tree (Cocos nucifera L.) is of major importance to generate family income. In the last years the water of the unripe green coconut has got more and more importance on the Brazilian market because of the change of the consumers behaviour shifting from sweet artificial to more natural isotonic drinks.
Traditionally most coconut water is consumed direct from the fruit. While the large consumer centres are located in the south of the country the fruits have to be transported over up to 4000 kilometres resulting the transportation costs to be the major part of the sales price. Eighty percent of the transported good is coconut fibres and only twenty percent is the wanted water. In addition the coconut fibres are an increasing problem in the waste deposit of the cities. In view of this problem the Institute of Agricultural Engineering in the Tropics and Subtropics in cooperation with Weiß Getränke GmbH developed a new concept for the extraction and conservation of coconut water.
In on-farm trials the nut opening method was improved by replacing the traditional manual opening using a machete by introducing a modified wood splinter: The cotter was replaced by a knife made from stainless steel to cut the coconut. To collect the extracted coconut water a basin was assembled to the platform of the splinter.
To make a packaging on farm level possible a micro factory was designed using a filter unit followed by a pasteurisation plant and a bagging assembly, where for the first time in coconut water processing the bag in box system was introduced which is well known in Europe in trading of wine and fruit juices. Finally the water was filled in bags and enabled to cool down on ambient temperature before being sold to wholesalers.
This technology innovation enables farmers and communities in rural areas to process their coconuts and produce a marketable product. This increases family income and avoids transportation efforts and waste deposit in the cities whereas the fibres can remain on the farm.
Keywords: Bag in box, green coconut, processing