Honorary Research Fellow
M Ag Sc
Diploma of Tropical Agriculture (Trinidad)
Hartley Teakle Building (83) Room S319, St Lucia Campus
P: +61 7 3365 2867
E: m.foale@uq.edu.au

Professional Membership:

  • Fellow of Australian Institute of Agriculture

Expertise Topics

  • Coconut production and processing; Agricultural Production Systems; Relation between dietary components and heart health; Coconut management and genetic resources

Research Projects

  • Promoting the health advantages of  coconut oil
  • Developing snack foods from coconut kernel

Research Project Opportunities

  • Possible collaboration with commercial companies in refinement and characterisation of derivatives of coconut kernel

Selected Publications

  • Foale, M.A. and Ashburner, R (2004) The coconut palm.  Chapter 6 in: Handbook of Industrial Crops, VL Chopra and KV Peter (Eds) Indian Council for Agricultural Research, New Delhi, and Haworth Reference Press, New York.
  • Foale, MA and Tehardi, J (2005) Review report to ACIAR on the project: “Coconut tissue culture for clonal propagation and safe germplasm exchange. “ Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Canberra.
  • Foale, MA, Samosir Y and Lim E (2006) Preliminary Study on Coconut Smallholder and Processing Industry in Eastern Indonesia and Southern Philippines (BIMP-EAGA PROJECT) –Report to Hassall and Associates International.
  • Foale MA and Harries HC (2009) Farm and Forestry Production and Marketing profile for Coconut. Pp24. Internet publication of the University of Hawaii as a .pdf file at: http://agroforestry.net/scps/Coconut_specialty_crop.pdf
  • Adkins S, Foale MA and Harries H (2010) Growth and production of coconut. An internet publication of the Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems at:       http://greenplanet.eolss.net/EolssLogn/mss/C10/E1-05A/E1-05A-40/E1-05A-40-        TXT.aspx
  • Foale MA and Harries HC (2011) Coconut (Cocos nucifera) Pp 113 to 134 In: Specialty Crops for Pacific Islands. Permanent Agriculture Resources. Holualoa, Hawaii pp 558
  • Foale Mike (2011) The coconut palm – its place and potential in Australia. Agricultural Science 23(3) 29-34

Key Stakeholder Engagement

  • List of Engagement Secretariat of Pacific Communities


Mike grew up on a wheat and sheep farm in the Murray Mallee region of South Australia and joined the British Overseas Civil Service with an Agricultural Science degree from Adelaide in 1957. He spent ten years in coconut agronomic research, mostly in Solomon Islands where Unilever and others were struggling to sustain plantations which had been very profitable in the early 20th century. Coconut production reverted mostly to smallholders in the 1970s and 1980s as Soy and Oil Palm took control of the edible oil trade.
Mike joined CSIRO in 1969, working for five years on tobacco agronomy in Queensland, and then on grain sorghum for seventeen years, both dryland and irrigated, including the joint supervision of post-graduate students of the University of Queensland. ACIAR took advantage of his coconut experience by engaging Mike as a consultant to its Coconut Improvement Projects, 1985 to 2002. He has continued to pursue coconut interests, both on the food side and also concerning genetic resources and germ-plasm exchange, and the associated technologies of embryo culture, cryopreservation and somatic embryogenesis, in association with Professor Steve Adkins of UQ, as an Honorary Research Fellow.
Since retirement from CSIRO in 1998 Mike has focussed on supporting the coconut small-holders of the world by working on potential snack foods derived from the coconut kernel. As the value of copra, a commodity produced by drying the kernel of the mature nut has such a low value in the world market that the effort to produce it is not generally considered worthwhile, the need is for higher-value products derived from coconut kernel so that the producer receives an attractive return for effort. The great nutritional/health value of coconut oil has been confirmed in recent times, so that any food which delivers coconut oil in the diet is worthy of commercial development.


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