FARMERS in the Lau Group have started the coconut replanting program in their bid to meet the demand for more copra.
The replanting program is expected to continue until the end of the year and this has been seen as a success by the 13 districts in the Lau Group.
Senior agricultural officer in Lau, Mere Salusalu said most farmers were encouraged to plant the two varieties of coconut, the Fiji Tall and the Niu Magimagi, as there was a huge demand for these two varieties of coconut in the industry.
"We recently visited islands in the Southern Lau Group and saw the vast coconut plantations that already exist on the islands," she said in a statement.
"Some farmers have begun replanting and we are thankful that they have taken the initiative to start planting coconuts again."
Mrs Salusalu said the Department of Agriculture would pay farmers for their time and effort during the replanting program — 36 cents per coconut seedling that they plant.
"A lot of standing coconut trees has become senile over the years due to its old status and the replanting of coconut trees will surely boost the coconut industry in the outer islands," she said.
Mrs Salusalu said village headmen in the Lau Group had been advised and also given a quota of 3000 coconut seedlings to plant. She said the seedlings would be shared among farmers in their districts.
"We have encouraged the farmers to use their own coconut planting materials that are on the ground and our extension officers will be travelling around the islands to inspect their plantations and pay them at the end of the year," she said.
According to Mrs Salusalu, the Taveuni Coconut centre in Mua has been supplying the coconut seedlings over the years, which have proved to be an expensive exercise.