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Progamme To Develop Coconut Industry Launched

Progamme To Develop Coconut Industry Launched
Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, and National Disaster Management Inia Seruiratu (right) with Tui Macuata Ratu Wiliame Katonivere launching the coconut development programme at the Copra Millers Fiji Limited factory in Savusavu on August 11, 2018. Photo: Nacanieli Tuilevuka
August 12
12:56 2018

A Government programme to develop Fiji’s coconut industry and boost the supply of copra was launched in Savusavu yesterday.

The policy is formulated for the develop­ment of the coconut industry under the Government’s assistance scheme.

The Government in the 2018-2019 National Budget announced a collaboration with Co­pra Millers Fiji Limited, embarking on a coconut planting assistance journey.

In the budget, $700,000 was allocated to Co­pra Millers Fiji, with a target to plant 30,000 coconuts in the first year.

As part of the initiative, farmers who are interested will be allocated coconut seed­lings without any costs and will receive $20 for every successful germinated plant.

At the launch, Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, and Na­tional Disaster Management Inia Seruiratu said the coconut industry was very impor­tant to economic and social development in Fiji.

“Over the years, it has been an important source of livelihood for rural and maritime people, even though the performance of the industry has been on a decline since the 1970s,” Mr Seruiratu said.

“It resilience has encouraged this Govern­ment to continue to rehabilitate and devel­op the industry into a vibrant business to support an estimated 10,000 farmers who are dependent on it for their livelihood.”

Increase harvest

The minister said the plan was to increase the number of coconuts harvested annu­ally.

“Currently, Fiji has an estimated 10 mil­lion scattered and planted coconut trees, over an area of approximately 65,000 hec­tares of land mostly under a mixed crop­ping and livestock farming system,” he said.

“Around 70 to 80 per cent of Fiji’s coconut palms are more than 100 years old.

“Average nut production is 25 to 30 nuts per tree per year for older trees while younger palms below 50 years are around 60 to 70 nuts per tree per year.”

Mr Seruiratu said the performance of Fiji’s coconut industry can be affected by natural disasters, expiring land leases, in­dustrial development and coconut timber harvesting from senile palms.

“The shift to a more lucrative shorter terms crop like yaqona and dalo, and the low yields and high transportation costs with unfa­vourable market prices, have also contribut­ed to farmers leaving the industry,” he said.

Years of neglect

“After years of neglect, the current Gov­ernment has realised the importance of this industry based on its sustainability and its social and economic contribution to the development of Fiji and its people.

“Government has considered this as a strategic priority through the Ministry of Agriculture’s various initiatives to reha­bilitate and revitalise this ailing industry.”

He urged farmers to plant more coco­nuts, saying the future of the industry was bright.

“Make use of this opportunity which is fo­cus towards your livelihood, food security, for the development of the coconut indus­try and for growing of our economy,” Mr Seruiratu said.

“The current Government continues to support our farmers and all those in the supply chain guarantees that should great­ly benefit from this crop.”

Application forms

Copra Millers Fiji chairman Raj Sharma said application forms for the programme will be available by Monday.

“Application forms will be available at our Suva office, Savusavu and can be download­ed from our website,” Mr Sharma said.

“The seedlings cannot be sold or given to any other party.

“First payment of $10 will be made with­in eight to 12 months after inspection and verification.

“This payment will be made on the nomi­nated bank account of farmer. The program will be on the first come first serve basis.

“Deadline of the filling in of application form is October 31.”

Feedback: nacanieli.tuilevuka@fijisun.com.fj

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