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Coconut potential

Repeka Nasiko
Thursday, January 31, 2013

THE future of coconut production in the country is bright, says the Primary Industries Ministry's extension director Uraia Waibuta.

Mr Waibuta was at the launch of a three-year coconut replanting program at Yadua Village in Sigatoka yesterday.

The campaign is aimed at planting one million coconut trees.

Mr Waibuta said the replanting program was the result of the increasing demand for coconut products.

"At one point, the only demand was for copra but now we have seen there is a lot of demand for products like coconut water and desiccated coconut," he said.

"But for us to meet these demands we have to grow more trees. We have found that majority of the coconut population in Fiji is senile as in they are about 80 to 90 or 100 years old which barely produce nuts.

"That is our main challenge right now — the availability of seeds," said Mr Waibuta.

"So this replanting program is to fast-track the need to replant the trees to produce more seeds."

He said those intending to join the program in the west would not have to start coconut plantations.

"We don't expect coconut plantations in the west.

"Farmers can still stick to their usual plantations of crops and vegetables. All they have to do is plant a few trees within the boundaries of their plantations."

Mr Waibuta said the income returns of the new program could run into the millions.

"Six coconuts make up one kilogram of copra and if we have to sell about 10 to 20 bags, the returns would be very good for the farmers.

"We are looking at millions in returns and it also has a lot of benefits for the tourism market."

While the program has begun up north, Mr Waibuta said the campaign would be introduced to other parts of the country.





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