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Fiji Times Online Ana Madigibuli Tuesday, April 30, 2013

OUT of the estimated 10 million coconut trees in Fiji, almost 70 per cent are termed senile.

This, Ministry of Agriculture's director extension, Vatimi Rayalu, said this meant that most of the trees were 60 to 100 years old.

Mr Rayalu revealed this as he highlighted the government's intention to diversify the coconut industry by looking at other coconut products and bio-products this year.

He said one of the ways they would address the issue of senile trees was to introduce the one million coconut tree planting initiative.

He said when coconut trees grew old, production would also drop.

"The ministry took the initiative to plant at least another one million coconut trees by 2015 to address the senility of coconut tree issue," Mr Rayalu said.

"An example was the opening of the virgin coconut oil training centre in Taveuni by the Prime Minister, which is one of the products that government is promoting as an alternative form of livelihood apart from copra."

Mr Rayalu said there were other bio-products people could use such as coconut husks and coconut shells to make as ornaments that could be sold.

He said bio-products were a higher value product compared to copra and people could generate more income from virgin oil and that there were local markets interested in the product.

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