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Copra Millers Look At Product Diversification

Copra Millers Look At Product Diversification
Copra Millers of Fiji Limited meets stakeholders and coconut farmers at The Hotspring Hotel in Savusavu yesterday. Photo: SILIVIA CAWARU
October 27
11:13 2015

Coconut sugar for diabetes patients and coconut juice products are among ideas being looked at by the coconut industry.

They were discussed at the Copra Millers of Fiji Limited (CMFL) Annual General Meeting (AGM) for the Coconut Farmers and Stakeholders Forum in Savusavu last Saturday.

Members looked at expanding the coconut industry through product diversification.

 

Challenges

Small time coconut farmers in the North rural areas raised their concerns about the high cost of transportation and the unsatisfactory price range of 20 cents per mature nuts.

They said that coconut business was declining in terms of profits so they sold their green coconuts instead at a more profitable price of $1 per green nut.

Savusavu coconut farmer Parmanand Singh said “It’s fast money and easy money”

“Who would want to sell their mature coconut at 20 cents per nut when you can sell $1 per green nut instead,” Mr Singh said.

“It is much more profitable and obviously generates faster cash flow.

 

The Evaluative Solution

Speaking positively about the coconut industry, Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Land Resources Division, Tree Crops Agriculture business officer Tevita Kete encouraged farmers to uphold copra as part of the coconut industry.

“The coconut industry has have been there a long time as a base earner for Fiji,” Mr Kete said.

“More than 50 per cent of the nuts come from stakeholders but 30  to 40 per cent of coconuts that are thought to be left on the field by farmers that the copra mill says does not reach the mill, has actually been sold as heaps to market vendors and others outside the coconut business.

“The copra millers face a tough competition like never before from those who just want to buy coconut from farmers and farmers just want to sell their coconuts at a maximum price.

“Hence product diversification comes in such as coconut sugar, coconut water but even as new products emerge we should not forget copra as most rural farmers also depend on mature coconuts as a source of living.

“Copra is the mainstay of the coconut industry and support is needed to continue the quality survey of products, best refinery process and education for farmers.

“A fund by European Union (EU) is coming in soon to assist farmers in marketing, policy, education and awareness programmes abroad.

“We just need to work together in the coconut industry and come up with more innovative ideas such as the Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) product.

 

Fijian products

Mr Kete said the VCO product was a Fiji original product before other countries followed in investing in virgin oil products too.

“There are also a strong market for green coconuts and a high demand for coconut replanting,” Mr Kete said.

“Sri Lanka is a reputable country for producing the best A1 coconut oil and Fiji can also take that reputation, if we either invest in costs to educate farmers.

“I have attended workshops in overseas and in the pacific and it is surprising to learn about the pacific’s interest in Fiji coconut oil.”

He said that was because Fiji harvested and used coconuts that matured naturally unlike Asia countries who harvest coconuts when not fully matured.

“Hence quality in Fiji products is superb.”

Feedback:  silvia.cawaru@fijisun.com.fj

 

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