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What is Good for Apia is also good for Savaii!
"O le mea e lelei i Apia, e lelei foi mo Savaii"

Oct 16

Plant more coconuts, begs Le Mamea

But that is not reason for to sit on our laurels, says Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Le Mamea Tuiletufuga Ropati Mualia in his launching address.

 


“Coconut is the tree of life and it has contributed a hefty $5 million tala in export revenues for the country during fiscal year 2014-2015.

“But that is just the tip of the iceberg because we have not yet tapped into the full potential of ready to export coconut by-products.

“Today is more than planting coconuts but to plant the seed in our children that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

“We must all earn our keep.”

The programme initially involved only primary schools but it is now extended to secondary schools.

More than 3000 coconut seedlings were distributed to 30 selected schools to plant in this year’s Coconut Tree Planting Day.

These schools include primary and secondary schools from government, mission and private.

Coconuts have been in high demand in recent months for the growing virgin oil export market as well as the export of canned coconut cream and palusami.

And the Agriculture minister recommends an average of 25 coconut trees to be planted on an acre of land, spaced out.

The growing demand for coconuts had prompted the Ministry of Agriculture to speed up its coconut replanting programme.

“At the moment, there are not enough coconuts to cater for the growing demand,” says Le Mamea.

And to assist the cause, MAF had initiated a stimulus package incentive scheme to revive the coconut, cocoa and coffee industries.

And that incentive is winding down.

“The stimulus package is accomplished its targets and will be phased out this year,” said Chief Executive for Agriculture and Fisheries Fonoiava Se’aliitu Sesega

“Instead, government will be concentrating its efforts to replanting coconuts to reach its full export potential.”

During the three year pilot project, $15 million tala worth of equipment and cash rewards were given out to 557 farmers including 380 in Upolu and the rest in Savai’i, who were participating in the initiative. The original target was for 500 farmers to enroll in the Stimulus Package initiative.

“With the target number reached, government has decided to concentrate ion reviving the coconut industry because of the promising financial rewards for farmers,” noted the Chief Executive.

“We have planted the seed but motivating farmers to return to the land to resurrect our dwindling cocoa, coffee and coconut plantations.

“And it’s hoped that without the Stimulus rewards, the farmers will not abort what we have started.”

“Cabinet endorsement will also be sought for our Ministry to spearheaded a Coconut Replanting Scheme.

“And as part and parcel of the project, our Nu’u Crop Division is now responsible for the International Coconut Bank which is a worldwide nursery for all coconut varieties.

“This is a great advantage because it gives our Ministry immediate access to any coconut variety instantly,” continued Fonoiava.

“It’s also a bonus for Samoa to realize the spin-offs from organic coconut farming which is a lucrative but untapped export market for us.

“And long term plans also covers the introduction of a coconut species that can produce high quality juice which when canned and exported can result in millions of tala in revenue for our farmers.”

“Most of the coconuts are coming from Savaii. But the coconut plantations in Upolu are also recovering very well from Cyclone Evans in December, 2012.”

The ministry recently secured a 200-acre property at Mulifanua from STEC – which the Minister says – will be cultivated with coconuts.

Author: Nanai Laveitiga Tuiletufuga
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