Govt goes on offensive to defend coconut industry

Govt goes on offensive to defend coconut industry

The Foreign Ministry is urging Thai diplomats to explain to foreign importers and retailers that Thailand does not use monkeys to harvest coconuts on an industrial scale.

Ministry spokesman Cherdkiat Atthakor said Thai embassies and consulates must urgently clarify the "falsehoods" alleged in the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta)'s report on Thailand's use of monkeys to collect coconuts.

The ministry instructed Thai embassies and consulates to work with international trade promotion offices to closely monitor the situation, said Mr Cherdkiat, also director-general of the Department of Information.

The Thai embassy in Stockholm has issued a press release to deny Peta's allegation against Thailand stating that using monkeys to collect coconuts is a local tradition but there is no monkey labour in the wider export industry.

The Thai international trade promotion office in London has sent a letter to every large retailer in the UK to deny Peta's report and plans to meet with the large retailers and importers to further clarify the matter.

The Thai embassy in Berlin said it was closely monitoring reports that some shopping malls in Germany will ban coconut milk from Thailand from October this year.

The Thai Food Processors' Association said at a meeting with the commerce minister that Theppadungporn Coconut and Thai Agri Foods -- two Thai coconut milk exporters accused in Peta's report -- do not use monkeys to pick coconuts on an industrial scale and have signed a memorandum of understanding with importers and distributors of Thai products in foreign countries to certify this.

The private sector will also adopt a traceability system to track Thai coconuts from farms to buyers, the association said.


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