FCLC coconut rehabilitation continues

Caption: Coconut seedlings are needed to rehabilitate the coconut industry. Photo: PACIFIC REACH LIMITED.

October 26, 2017. The Fiji Crop and Livestock Council (FCLC) is working in collaboration with Government through the Fiji Coconut Growers Association (FCGA) to rehabilitate the coconut industry.

“Cyclone Winston has greatly impacted the industry and the supply of mature coconuts is running short. To address this, FCLC is partnering with the Ministry to provide farmers with coconut seedlings, which farmers will then grow,” said FCLC CEO, Jiu Daunivalu.

As coconuts are a long-term crop with up to five years to mature, FCGA Acting General Manager, John Deo, said that it would take a while for the industry to restore.

Prior to Cyclone Winston, the market price for copra stood at $1,150 per tonne, dipping to $1,000 per tonne following the Category 5 natural disaster, added Mr Deo.

Mrs Daunivalu says that the Council was utilising part of its Winston rehabilitation funds to assist coconut growers, who are part of the 60,000 non-sugar sector farmers in Fiji.

The Secretary of the Fiji Copra Producers Association, Karl Smith, says that “the poor quality [of seedlings] is not unusual given the damage suffered by the source trees”, and he further recommends that the provision of seedlings be deferred to another 12 months until quality seedlings can be secured.

Meanwhile, earlier this year, the Minister for Agriculture, Hon. Inia Seruiratu, said that Government is committed to revitalising the coconut industry with a five-year plan already in place.

Close to 30,000 commodity farmers comprise FCLC, which was established by Government in 2013 to promote sustainable commercial agriculture. Coconut is one of 12 groupings under FCLC and includes Grazing Livestock, Dalo, Yaqona, Cocoa, Ginger, Rice, Fiji Foods Exporters Association, Pigs, Beekeepers, Fruit and Vegetable, and Organics.

As the organisation that bridges the gap between commodity farmers and Government, Mrs Daunivalu says that the FCLC continues to support farmers through Government lobbying, provision of agricultural services, and through organising and developing farmers.