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Strategies in place to revive Fiji coconut industry

Fiji Times Online Salaseini Moceiwai Monday, May 06, 2013

THE Copra Millers of Fiji Limited (CMFL) and government have put in place strategies to sustain copra production in the country.

As part of these long and short term strategies, government appointed a Coconut Industry Steering Committee with the objective of implementing a Coconut Industry Reform Program for 2012 to 2014.

CMFL executive chairman Ilisoni Taoba said committee members were permanent secretaries and coconut industry stakeholders.

"The strategy includes the reviewing of the Copra Price Support from $500 per tonne in the hope of maintaining the interest of the farmers by receiving a reasonable profit margin per tonne of copra produced to help revitalise the coconut industry," he said.

"Major stakeholders propose through discussion the price of $850 to $900 per tonne and reviewing of the regulated sea freight charges.

"Assistance to copra supplies from maritime islands is also part of the plan to help cushion high freight costs.

"In 1992, government acted with good intention to help promote the revitalisation of the coconut industry by introducing a counter inflation order to control the increasing copra freight rates from the outer islands and assist in subsidising the shipping freight charges from island ports to the mill.

"The copra freight subsidy rate in place for 21 years is considered insignificant compared to the significant increase in sea freight charges imposed by the shipping industry.

"This has been reviewed by the Fiji Commerce Commission and it is now with the Ministry of Works for a decision by government."

Ministry of Primary Industries director extension Vatimi Rayalu said the committee was appointed last year to help the coconut industry.

He said the reform program included the planting and replanting of coconut trees over the next five years.

Mr Taoba said they aimed to plant 650,000 coconut trees in the hope of reversing the declining annual copra supply trend.

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