Fiji government to invest more in its coconut industry

The Fijian government is working towards reviving the country’s struggling coconut industry, allocating US$750,000 to a coconut development programme this year, the Fiji Sun reported on 23 March.

This was a budget increase of 103% compared with 2014, when the Ministry of Agriculture allocated US$370,000 to the programme, Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development and Waterways and Environment Mahendra Reddy said.

Fiji has around 10M coconut trees scattered around an area of some 65,000ha 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.”

He added that about 120,000 of Fiji’s rural population depended on the coconut industry as their main source of food and livelihood.

Senile plantations were to blame for low coconut production in Fiji as 40% of trees were unproductive, Reddy said. Other factors hitting the industry included 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.