Presentation on coconut unites experts and farmers

The Pacific Islands’ most famous palm the coconut is uniting farmers and enthusiasts from far and near.

Samoa plays host this week to the Pacific agriculture week which comprises a number of side-events on coconut, partnerships for sustainable agriculture and biosecurity, the opening of the Heads of Agriculture and Forestry Services Meeting on Wednesday, and the official opening of the 2nd FOA and SPC Joint Pacific Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry Meeting at the TATTE Convention Center on Friday. 

The regional event has brought together Fijian secondary school teacher Kavnil Reddy and Alo Kolone Va’ai from Samoa.

Mr. Reddy, who is a masters degree student at the University of South Pacific Alafua Campus, has been teaching for three years but he is keen to learn new innovative ideas and breeding techniques for coconuts.

“Coconut is a plant which is very resistant to all climates. It’s not difficult to plant a coconut, however we have to be mindful of the production. The yield, it will take time to grow,” he said, in an interview with the Samoa Observer.

And while coconut as a plant is diverse, Mr. Reddy said changing climatic conditions can have an adverse effect on the palm in the future, if it is not preserved and sustained. 

“I’m actually here for this presentation because I believe it’s a very innovative and implementing program as it’s really going to affect me in the future in positive terms,” he added.

The presentation he was referring to was done at the Taumeasina Island Resort on Monday with the presenters advocating conservation and sustainability of the palm, as well as its market value and how it can be improved. 

Mr. Reddy said he is motivated by the work of non-government organisations, government agencies and donors in preserving the region’s famous palm. 

Alo Kolone Va’ai, a local farmer from Vaisala Savai’i, was more interested in the marketing of coconuts beyond the shores of Samoa and also learnt of the different strategies other nations were adopting to preserve the plant.

“I have learnt and understood the many different strategic ways that those other foreign countries apart from Samoa, are using and applying in the preserving of the coconut plant as well as the corporations who are responsible for the production of coconut products,” he said.

Mr. Va’ai said he was looking forward to more presentations by experts over the next few days, which would enable him to learn more about the coconut industry in Samoa. 

Vanuatu is the only country in the region with its own coconut breeding program, which Mr. Reddy said can be diversified and broadened in the region. 

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