The Pacific Community (SPC) and the European Union will support the coconut industry in Samoa and Vanuatu as part of a new regional initiative to improve small producer’s business competitiveness.
The €3.5 million Coconut Industry Development Project (C.I.D.P) aims to improve the livelihood of smallholder farmers in Samoa and Vanuatu, and to share lessons learned to support the development of the regional coconut industries.
S.P.C Project Team Leader, Karen Mapusua, explained that the call for Expressions of Interest is now open for all involved in the coconut industry including the private sector, farmers’ organisations, and NGOs working with farmers. This allows potential applicants ample time to develop the required business plans and other documentation and take advantage of this unique opportunity to access technical assistance, training and equipment to support innovation in the coconut sector.
In Vanuatu, the coconut sector supports 80 percent of Vanuatu’s rural population livelihoods. Until recently copra has been the country’s main foreign exchange earner.
In Samoa, over 80 percent of the population use up to 45 coconuts for cooking each week. Coconut also accounts for almost 5 percent of export earnings.
Coconut has a central role in the diets of Pacific people and is vital in contributing to food security, health promotion and sustainable livelihoods. New interest in coconuts and products such as virgin coconut oil, coconut water, coconut sap products and timber amongst others are also presenting opportunities for new growth in the coconut industry.
Mapusua said that there will be a very competitive selection process for the projects with a strong due diligence component.
“The national level mechanism that verifies Expressions of Interest (E.O.I) will ensure that it must align with the national development priorities for the sector. A Technical Advisory Group consisting of an independent panel of experts, will assess all submissions based on the eligibility and selection criteria and draw up a short-list of prospective pilot projects,” she said.
Application forms and detailed information on the application process are available on the S.P.C website.