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Fiji TIMES ONLINE Ioane Burese Monday, March 07, 2011
THIRTY-TWO agricultural officers from the main coconut growing areas of Fiji have been trained in basic coconut management practices.
The training course was conducted at the Taveuni Research Centre in Mua.
According to the Ministry of Primary Industries, course coordinator Mere Salusalu said the officers from the eastern, northern and central divisions were taught the basics of identifying and selecting mother palms, establishing and producing seedlings, the different planting systems right up to harvesting and processing.
The functions of the coconut industry, which used to be managed by the Coconut Industry Development Authority (CIDA), was transferred back to the Ministry of Agriculture this year.
Ms Salusalu said during the four-day workshop, the officers would be briefed on all regulations of the industry, the APCC Production Standards and how to produce other by products of copra like virgin coconut oil (VCO), handicraft, soap, herbal massage oil and coconut oil.
The coconut industry in the form of copra was once Fiji's major export industry raking in much needed foreign exchange for the country before sugar took over. The coconut industry has been on the decline almost ever since.
Major advances, in value adding and production of bio-fuel have made coconut a valuable commodity and Government believes it could provide viable and lucrative investment opportunities for farmers in the coconut growing areas.