The government, through the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) plans to reach one million coconut trees planted in Vanuatu by 2026.
This is one item of the Coconut Strategy of the Government through the Ministry of Agriculture and the DARD launched in 2016 to last until 2026 to revive the country’s coconut industry.
Outlining the aims of the strategy at the three-day Agri-Tourism Festival during the Pacific Week of Agriculture this week held at the Independence Park in Port Vila, Italio Bororoa – Coconut Specialist with the DARD, said the coconut sector is the second largest contributor of foreign exchange earnings for Vanuatu. It contributes 45% of the country’s GDP.
“In 2007, 9.7 million coconut trees were recorded in Vanuatu.
“Only 42% of these trees were being used to make copra and coconut oil,” he added.
“The vision of the coconut strategy is to make coconut the top income earner in the Vanuatu Agriculture Sector by 2026.
“One of the long term objectives of the coconut strategy is to increase farmers’ access to improved planting materials,” Bororoa said.
To achieve this, in 2016 the DARD started distributing improved seedlings of the improved Vanuatu Tall coconut variety throughout Vanuatu. That year, Tafea Province received 24,840 seed nuts equivalent for planting on an area of 170 hectares, Shefa received 23,720 nuts for 160ha, Malampa 2,100 for 15 ha, Penama 24,000 for 168 ha, Sanma 34,536 for 241 ha, Torba 10,000 for 70 ha. A total of 119,000 nuts for 830 ha.
This year, nuts distributed for planting: Tafea 10,000 nuts for 70ha of land, Shefa received 3,000 for 20 hectares, Malampa 9,324 nuts for 65 ha, Penama 14,616 for 102ha, Sanma 39,614 nuts planted in 277ha, and Torba 3,000 on 20 ha. Altogether for 2017, a total of 79,554 nuts for 554 ha of land.
“Copra production is labor intensive,” Bororoa said and today there is coconut virgin oil being sold in Vanuatu as well as some overseas markets and there is also a nicely-packaged coconut water products being sold in hotels or to tourists.
Coconut is the tree of life and in that sense, it is very useful. It has many uses such as the coconut juice for drinking, coconut milk for recipes, copra, oil, green leaf and timber, coconut specialist Italio Bororoa said.