Roaring through the pandemic
7 October 2020
Most of the time, a random thought in the most unusual places is the one that totally changes one’s life or, in this case, the lives of many others. For businessman Christian Eyde Moeller, the idea came while gazing at the sea in Hong Kong while having lunch and having a fascinating conversation with a friend on the “tree of life.”
Here, the seeds for building a coconut farm in Palawan was first planted.
And from that initial germ of an idea, in 2013, and in true trailblazing fashion, Moeller and his partners travelled all the way to the Philippines, took a seven-hour banca ride from Puerto Princesa to a seemingly deserted and small island in Rizal, Palawan to plant their very first coconut palms.
The vision wasn’t just to utilize the coconut palm but to celebrate the tree as a total giver of life — from its trunk, to its leaves, fruit, to the coconut flower sap, which is the raw material at the core of the farm’s various finished products.
This was how Lionheart Farms’ fruitful start came about. Moeller, who is its president, believes in the salient power of sustainability especially in agriculture. And so, the sap from the coconut flower led to healthy edible essentials like coconut flower sugar, delicious coconut flower nectar or syrup that are great for pancakes and even for baking, and savory coconut amino seasoning or vinegar for everyday dishes.
Coconut flower sugar and the syrup are low-glycemic foods, while the coconut flower liquid seasoning is low in sodium, so these end-products are very good options for people with ailments like diabetes and kidney disorders.
On a bigger picture, Lionheart Farms adopted the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in its farming system and recently, the Council for Sustainable Development accomplished its UN Sustainable Assessment for Food and Agriculture and bestowed the Lionheart Farms with an impressive score of 4.79 out of 5.
Passion with purpose
To some, that decision to leave his comfort zone — working in cosmopolitan cities in Asia and Europe, that is — makes Moeller a wild-hearted individual.
“When you ask my staff, they would say I’m big-hearted, but I would say, I’m a passionate person who tries to live life with a purpose. That’s what I’ve been trying to do since I was young and which has taken me to different parts of the world. And now, I ended up in Palawan.”
Four years since its founding, the Lionheart Farms community has definitely helped provide livelihood for local farmers and their families. From 500 workers, the company now includes 1,200 full-time employees. These families also earn a living by supplying the farm with natural ingredients like cow manure, cocofeed, ginger, tubli, katakat, tuba and more for green fertilizers.
Moeller, who is of Danish and Norwegian descent, has held various posts in Asia for 30 years, including working for an agricultural company in China. Married to a Filipina chef, Cecile, Moeller has found his home and purpose anew in Palawan.
The name Lionheart is inspired from a popular’s children tale in Sweden, The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren. The story tells of the strong and unbreakable bond of two brave brothers who go through several adventures. “We really wanted to project a business with a big heart. And at the same time, the lion is really known as a protector in Asia,” he said.
Advice for young farmers
The pandemic has really led today’s young generation of entrepreneurs to think deeper into the picture and mull over what’s next not just for them but for their communities as well.
Beyond jobs that make them stay put in offices or call centers, this column has featured several youthful entrepreneurs who are admirably setting their vision on feeding the country and hopefully, keeping the country’s economy moving and its people nourished one fruit tree or one rice plant at a time.
Moeller inspires them to act locally while thinking globally — for the only planet we live in — as well.
“There are a lot of young people out there who are incredibly smart, who are very passionate and they want to make a difference in agriculture and food production. I would connect that to climate change and social development. You have to embrace it and if you do that, the reward at a personal level would be incredible. You will love it and you will never want to do anything else.”