THE government is committed to ending the neglect of past governments to make the hard decisions necessary to empower people and give them a renewed sense of purpose.
Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama made the comment while opening the new Whole Nut processing facility on Taveuni yesterday.
Commodore Bainimarama said the coconut industry was once a major source of export revenue alongside sugar.
"It employed thousands of rural and maritime farmers and workers and brought in much-needed foreign exchange," he said.
"In the 1950s, copra production was more than 40,000 metric tonnes a year. Now, it is half of that — around 20,000 metric tonnes.
"This decline has been attributed to an increase in low-yielding trees, the decline in copra prices, high production and freight costs, and the inability of the industry to adapt to changes in technology and the global market."
As a result, the PM said many Fijians had turned to farming more lucrative, shorter term crops, such as yaqona and dalo.
"Our vision is to improve the lives of many thousands through the development of the coconut industry. We believe that with the right support and a smarter approach, together we can once again make this a viable commercial industry."