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Sector potential

Filipe Naigulevu
Monday, January 29, 2018

THE coconut industry in the Pacific poses unique potential with its advancement along with several opportunities for creating sustainable livelihoods, income generation and development.

A new market study report launched last Thursday at The Melanesian Hotel Port Vila, Vanuatu, has supported this highlighting several prospects for Pacific Island coconut producers and recommendations to enhance competitiveness of the Pacific coconut industry.

The report titled "An overview of the market for Pacific Island coconut products and the ability of industries to respond," takes a critical look at various possibilities for Pacific Island coconut producers in non-traditional products such as virgin coconut oil (VCO), coconut water, coconut cream products and coconut timber.

The market study was supported by the Coconut Industry Development for the Pacific (CIDP) project, a four million euro ($F9.3 million) joint initiative of the European Union, the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) and the Pacific Community (SPC).

According to a statement issued by SPC, the report was researched and drafted by Dr Andrew McGregor and Mark Sheedy of the Pacific Island Farmers Organisation Network (PIFON) covering four broad markets and core value chains for coconut products.

The report also investigates vital vegetable oil market developments in the international arena within the past two decades; as well as coconut oil and copra as global trade commodities.

According to the managing director of Vanuatu company Elcress Agra and one of the recipients of the pilot projects, Nicolas Monvoisin, the pilot project support will help them grow markets for organic coconut oil.

"But most importantly through the farmers academy it will establish, we will be able to build capacity of our 900 organically certified suppliers to produce a better quality copra which will result in higher returns for these producers on Epi island," she said in the statement.

SPC land resources division director Jan Helsen said the study ultimately recommended that the Pacific coconut sector focus on VCO for local markets, and high grade copra for export markets as well as cream products such as yoghurt and cream freeze, and timber veneer.

"This valuable information helps CIDP to further develop value chain road maps of certain coconut products for the Pacific through the baseline information and evidence provided in this market study," he said.

In conjunction with the new market survey report, CIDP also launched six pilot projects that they have in Samoa and Vanuatu.

According to SPC, the enterprises identified for pilot projects were announced during the launch and will receive support in the form of technical assistance and equipment.

"Fifteen expressions of interest (EOI) were received through an open competitive process, after which an independent business development expert made recommendations to a panel of business, marketing, financing and development experts who then undertook an in-depth analysis of the shortlisted proposals," SPC said in the statement.

"This technical advisory group's recommendations were further referred to the governments of Samoa and Vanuatu for their final endorsements.

"The applications were rigorously assessed to ascertain how much impact the projects would have on improving the livelihoods of the multitude of smallholders in our region's coconut sector."

The six successful enterprises being endorsed for CIDP support are Mailelani Samoa Body Care, Samoa Coconut Cluster (SCC), Serendi Coco Samoa Ltd, Women in Business Development (WIBDI), Elcress Agra, and Ambrym Coconut Farmers Cooperative Society Ltd (ACFC).

CIDP is a joint initiative of the SPC and the EU as part of a broader economic partnership between the EU and the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) states.

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