Coconut revival talks in Samoa
An in depth review of the Coconut industry in the Pacific is under way at Hotel Tanoa Tusitala in Apia. The talks are looking to develop feasible research and strategies to resolve issues that prohibit the growth of the industry.
The ‘Pacific Coconut Research and Development Strategy’ Meeting is being hosted by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).
Held over three days,the conference is being attended by policy makers, senior government officials, researchers, development agents, coconut product manufacturers, exporters and buyers from around the Pacific region.
Coconut Agronomist at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Fata Alo Fania, said the main issue for Samoa is the age and productivity of the coconut trees.
“The coconut trees in Samoa are very old,” he said.“So we need to replace those old trees by planting new ones…we need to find which coconut trees have the most potential to be productive.”
To address this, two islands –Namu’a in Aleipata and Nu’usafee in Faleali -have been selected to be used as nurseries for new coconut trees.Namu’a and Nu’usafee have been chosen for their isolation, since it is harder to conserve coconut trees on the mainland, Fata said.
The hybrid coconut especially, is in high demand for its good oil content, ability to grow well in Samoa, and productivity.
Dr. Mike Foale, from the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences in Australia, has been researching coconut for fifty years. He saidplans to revive the coconut are an exciting and important prospect.
Dr. Foale is developing a new product called Hot Oil dried desiccated coconut, which can be used as a substitute for flour, in cooking and baking and in desserts.
Speaking to the Samoa Observer, he believes the best future developments are to have more high value products such as virgin coconut oil.
“Virgin oil has made a big impact and I think there’s potential for other products based on the coconut kernel – big products,” he said.“I believe the coconut industry can really prosper and bring in much better income for coconut producers by marketing high value products such as virgin oil.”
Kitiona Salanoa, owner of ‘Mailelani’,knows the importance of improving coconut productivity since his business uses large quantities to make soaps and lotions.