Revitalising the Copra Industry

 The opening of a new Whole Nut Process centre in Taveuni is expected to revitalise Fiji's copra industry.

 This was the underlying theme emphasised by the Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama when he opened the centre which is housed at the Agriculture centre in Mua.

"The Fijian 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."

The Prime Minister highlighted that today's event demonstrated governments’ commitment to empowering ordinary Fijians.

"As I keep repeating, we are committed to ending the neglect of past governments, to make the hard decisions necessary to empower our people and give them a renewed sense of purpose. 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."

"This facility – hosted at the Taveuni Coconut Centre – will operate as a small to medium commercial enterprise, provide jobs and contribute to the local economy."

"It will also serve as a hands-on training centre for Fijians to learn about the various products and bi- products that can be processed from coconuts."

"We want to demonstrate different ways that coconuts can be used to earn a living, so that Fijians in rural communities have an additional strand of income."

In his address, the Prime Minister acknowledged that process period before it sees fruition.

"The transformation of the coconut industry will not happen overnight. But this new processing facility is the latest step in a coordinated and determined effort to breathe new life into the industry and create new opportunities for domestic and international trade and investment."

"We are also engaged in ambitious replanting programs across Fiji. In January, a campaign was launched to plant one million coconut trees over a period of three years."

A key focus of the new centre will look at diversification of coconut products by farmers. This includes ensuring that all possible uses of coconuts are fully explored before being discarded.
--- MOI.


Coconut power potential said…
These are all positive signs. coconut farming are a win-win scenario. It is not often discussed but the potential for Biofuel from coconuts are huge. Once there is enough copra and coconut oil then we can setup the necessary equipment for biofuel energy system. On a small scale, coconut oil based biofuels could power small villages. For large scale systems, a common processing system would be needed. All the rural villages would gain a lot. To put things into perspective, Fiji imports more than $1 billion/annum worth of fossil fuels (Diesel, ULP and Kerosene). Most are used for power generation. In reality we can only use 5% mix with Diesel so that the fuel mix does not damage the engines. But 5% is a lot of money. We can push for offsetting 10% of the imported fuel bill.. this is about $150m. This money would reach the grassroots people. We can improve on the numbers as times goes. Also since the price of fossil fuels will continue to increase, we can divert a significant potion of our hard earned cash to local projects. There are issues with pests and natural disasters but we can offset these risks by having a diversified array of crops and also ensuring there are sufficient numbers of coconut trees in all regions of this nation. Excellent moves by the government... now just need some good financing to get these projects off the ground! God bless this nation.. we are certainly moving forward..
PER said…
I am glad that our PM is now looking at coconuts. After his great success as sugar minister, the sugar industry is now in better shape than ever, and the PM is right in trying to do the same thing with coconuts. We should all support him and make our contributions to a brighter future for Fiji's rural areas.
Anonymous said…
PM keeps saying "committed to ending the neglect of past governments". When will he stop saying this and actually get te job done. These should have been done 6 years ago when took over te country. Getting little tied of listening to him blaming the past government. Fiji is not a big country. We are small and uncomplicated nation. We don't have major industries, just simple living. What he needs to do is get on election and bring back the government to run the nation properly via set of ministers elected by the nation. He is one man band and has difficult playing all the instruments. This nation needs set of people to run the various departments in parallel to each other.
PER said…
The PM has already undone most of the neglect by previous governments. He even ordered 120 pairs of gum boots on his last trip when he saw some poor children walking barefoot in the mud.
Anonymous said…
Oh yes, this self-appointed PM and 'thug in chief' is well not known for his humility and self-sacrificng nature. Pork Barrelling... for someone who moans bitterly about politicians, he is very adept at his own electioneering while pretending to be coy about his own plans for himself and his own survival. Anything he does in his current role may well be warranted and should happen anyway, but is incidental to his own survival and that of his cronies.
Anonymous said…
But past governments seem to have thoroughly messed Fiji up, so it is no more than the truth. Divisive policies, affirmative action to help the already privileged, politicizing sugar, half heartedly developing tourism but only as an itaukei investment with no non-itaukei faces muddying the posters, interfering in the judiciary and bringing race in to everything, what good can be said about all the rat bags who governed or did not govern Fiji since independence? And they were aided and abetted by our democracy and equality loving neighbors.Fiji- the bird with the broken wing, so easy to manipulate and control.
Anonymous said…
How well do you know Frank? You seem to be quite close to him to judge him as someone who is not well known for his humility and self-sacrifice. Please enlighten us with some facts.
rusi said…
He is a thug who needs is own words re-interpreted and certainly has not risen above his education or lack of it. poor simple man. I will be there to watch when is dealt with 'gaddafi style' and he then squeals through broken teeth about all his sacrifices for his country..
Anon said…
and we all know who are the privileged now. Who appointed Qarase and chaudry by the way? Tou seem to think it was another army who did that, used them and then turned on them .I would be happy to dig up quotes from this same military that couldn't have been happier with their appointments and defended them to the hilt!!! Hw quickly they distanced themselves .....we haven't forgotten. None of it.
Anonymous said…
We all know Frank, he is the one with his hands around his ankles in payment for chinese loans. Takin' one for Fiji! Gaol won't be such a big adjustment then.
Ian Simpson, Taveuni said…
Bula mai Taveuni,

The Taveuni Coconut Processing Centre at Mua is not all together a bad concept, ie. to display and operate machinery that allows small scale virgin coconut oil processing.

My opinion, which I made at a Coconut Industry Summit held in Savusavu in 2010, was that we needed to create a local market for VCO (search coconut oil) and the way to do this was to ban the importation of GM (genetic modified) vegetable oils and tax other oils such as peanut and palm to the extent that we create an internal market for VCO, insuring a price and volume that will actually encourage investment and production in a coconut industry to replace the present copra industry which is a dead end commodity, traded on the international market.

I also advocated for the coconut industry be given “pioneer industry status” , considering it is dead and at ground zero. This designation would mean that there would be no regulation for this industry at all levels, for a interim period of 5 years. Additional incentives could be Commercial Bank loans at 2% interest, to give the reserve bank of Fiji's commitment to agriculture some semblance of legitimacy.

Fiji imports $41 million dollars of vegetable oils. A huge percentage of this oil is not only derived from GM plants, but also hydrogenated. This means that these oils are mostly trans fats and deadly for human consumption. They are banned in Denmark and Switzerland and restaurants in California and New York,and the list grows. In regard to GMO's, very many countries in the world ban them. Japan and New Zealand, are two, there are eight in the European Union, and most recently, Peru has joined the list, and it grows.
The horror of GM, in my mind, is that seeds of plants intended for food for human consumption are modified to “not die” when subjected to spraying with glyphospate. An application of 3 litres per hectare used to do the job, now it takes 13 litres per hectare to kill weeds that have evolved to survive higher saturation levels. This is what your heavily advertised "health oil" subject to, a good dose of chemicals, made special just for your growing child.
Fellow citizens, “happy consuming”, all that corn, soya and canola oil, that has been saturated by a herbicide, now being found to be not so safe for humans or our precious soils and water.

This brings me to the scourge off NCD's ( non communicable diseases) that have been a part of the western world since the industrial revolution. Cheap processed foods delivered by the Corporations now account for NCD's that fill 80% of our hospital beds. A future tsunami of ills, now presenting in our children both here and over seas is going to swamp our health system. I have heard that I'taukei males have an average life span of 51 years in Fiji, if this is correct, then this has to be a national tragedy.

Here I see a situation where as a nation we can have many win-win outcomes. Any combination of banning, taxing, or labelling requirements will reduce imports which will result in reduced trade deficit, transfer wealth to rural communities in the eastern half of Fiji and improve the health of the nation. World War I & II both produced healthier populations due to rationing. Lower consumption of fats generally will be beneficial, to have an excellent healthy alternative is a gift.

Eskimos' have seal blubber, temperate zone peoples have their cows,goats and yaks, and we in the tropics are blessed with the best fat of all, delivered by no less than the “tree of life”.
Ian Simpson, Taveuni said…
Well, I hope you enjoyed, this is all academic. Entrenched interests will never allow their market share to be threatened. Also please don't get delusional about a revival of the copra industry, villagers in Fiji know what their labour is worth. Spending 40 man days to produce 1 tonne of copra for a return of $500 a tonne, less transportation, is an occupation of last resort. As for biofuel, get real, the only beneficiaries of this idea are the agencies and donors looking smart, and the profiteer purveyors of the machinery.

To bring about a socio-economic sea-change in the eastern half of Fiji, and I dare say Fiji, will require leadership, being focused on our primary industries, solutions, and not being distracted by dog and pony shows that are faster than a flying tapa.


Oh what a lovely bunch of coconuts said…
Will the revitalisation of the copra industry be as sucessfull as the rejuvenation of the sugar industry? Perhaps we should keep the outstanding sugar minister as minister for coconuts? But to be frankly honest for a moment (not a common characteristic in junta controlled Fiji)the only thing rapidly growing and expanding in junta land is the ballooning debt. This is something (if you have any honesty) you would take a good hard look at.

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