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.