Search for coconut seeds

Tui macuata Ratu Wiliame Katonivere and Agriculture Minister Inia Seruiratu plant coconuts during the launch of the program. Picture: LUKE RAWALAI

TWO years after Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston, the search for coconut seeds for the Northern Division still continues.

While launching the Coconut Development Program last Friday, Agriculture Minister Inia Seruiratu said the North was competing with coconut industry stakeholders from other parts of the country.

He also said they were competing with manufacturers of virgin coconut oil, coconut water, copra and other byproducts and even coconut for consumption.

Mr Seruiratu said the devastation caused by STC Winston had severely affected the main coconut growing areas in Vanua Levu, Northern Lau, Lomaiviti, Tailevu North and Ra areas.

“To rehabilitate the coconut industry after a cyclone, we need to consolidate our efforts as partners to generate seed nuts which will enable the industry to swiftly recover,” he said.

“Under the Ministry of Public Enterprises 2018/2019 National Budget, $700,000 has been allocated for coconut development to copra millers, with the target to plant 30,000 coconut seedlings in the first year.

“The unique part of this program is the incentives provided to interested farmers who will be allocated coconut seedlings without any cost, and will receive $20 for every successful germinated plant.

“I personally believe that the future of the coconut industry is bright but first we must plant more trees.”

Also speaking at the launch, Copra Millers Board chairman Raj Sharma clarified that those who qualified for the program would receive $10 for successfully grown coconut seedlings after the first three months and another $10 for each healthy seedling after six months.