Fiji Government to Revive Coconut IndustryThursday, April 25, 2019
The Fijian government has allocated USD750,000 to a coconut development program this year in a bid to revive the country’s struggling coconut industry. According to a report in the Fiji Sun last month, the this year’s allocation represents an increase of 103% from 2014. At that time, the Ministry of Agriculture set aside US$370,000 to the program, Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development and Waterways and Environment Mahendra Reddy said.
Fiji has around 10 M coconut trees planted in about 65,000 hectares and copra remains the most traded coconut commodity in the island nation, according to a Xinhua News Agency report. “Through its Crop Extension Services and Research Division, the ministry promotes the overall development of coconut as part of a farming system, whilst focusing on the rehabilitation of existing fields and plantations,” Reddy said. “The government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, will focus on providing aggressive intervention in the coming 10 years.”
About 120,000 of Fiji’s rural population depended on the coconut industry as their main source of food and livelihood, Reddy added. However, production of coconut in the country is low due to senile palms, with 40% of trees unproductive, Reddy said. Other factors affecting the industry are fluctuating copra prices, high production costs, a shortage of copra cutters, frequent cyclones and other catastrophic weather events, and competition from other lucrative cash crops.