Minister calls for global coconut partnerships
The Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Lopaoo Natanielu Mua, has called for expansion and strengthening of global partnerships and multi-sectoral collaborations for research and development, sharing and utilisation of information, to enhance the sustainable development of the coconut industry.
He made the comments in his keynote address during a Webinar organised by the International Coconut Community (I.C.C.) Secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia for the commemoration of World Coconut Day. The theme of this year's World Coconut Day is “Invest in Coconut to Save the World.”
According to Lopao’o, who is also the Chairman of I.C.C., the theme demonstrates and reaffirms the positive role of coconut and its products, in our economic, health, social, cultural, and environmental sectors.
“Our collective mission continues to be the sustainable development of our I.C.C. member countries, through the opportunity of our regions owning a significant proportion of coconut resources that contributes to the enhancement of the livelihoods of our peoples in the rural areas, and coconut growers of smallholdings,” he said.
The Minister pointed out that statistics speak for itself that a significant proportion of coconut productions are by smallholding communities of growers.
He said a significant number of communities rely on governments to lead discussions in finding solutions to improve the livelihoods of rural rural farmers and households.
“It is also not lost on us that our coconut communities also satisfy environmental objectives in our efforts to mitigate climate change through our replanting efforts, and whilst it is a common goal it is also one of a global concern that aims at the reduction of global warming," he said.
“It is in this vein that we continue to support the collaboration of our coconut growing countries through the I.C.C. Secretariat.
“Which brings us to focus on the most important strategies that are realistic in implementation by us, to sustain good livelihoods, industries, pristine environments and cultural heritage, as is mostly emphasized through the Small Island Developing States (S.I.D.S.) Accelerated Modalities of Actions Pathway (or S.A.M.O.A. Pathway), and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Agenda 2030, as most of you are aware.”
The Chairman of I.C.C. added that we often refer to the coconut tree as the ‘Tree of Life’ with other trees having often been referred the same, but none as more useful than the coconut tree.
“I need not expand on the many known uses of the coconut, which we have become accustomed and have discovered through time, with the assistance of research and technological development, at increasing quality production for all variety of uses and market demands.
“As we all know, the global demand for coconut products such as coconut water, sugar, cream, coconut oil, and activated carbon, is increasing rapidly.”
However, a high proportion of our coconut trees are old and senile, and compounded by the threat of pests and diseases, especially the coconut Rhinoceros beetle, and poor agronomic practices, have all led to the insufficient availability of raw materials to industries, he stressed.
He added that we should not be complacent in achieving new means of technology for production, new variety and quality of coconuts that are pest and disease immune, to achieve our combined desires, to realize the theme of this year’s World Coconut Day.
“I therefore encourage us all to scale up our national efforts via structured replanting programs to replace the old and unproductive coconut trees by the best selection varieties, promote integrated management of pests and diseases.
“Apply good agronomic practices, and maximize economic benefits from existing and emerging markets through downstream processing of good quality products. In short, we urgently need to invest in innovative technologies that will increase our coconut production.
“And it is not an easy task. Time is of the essence as we also note that ‘progress is a process.’, and it can be a long process. But let us not give up!
“I also encourage our I.C.C. member countries to be strongly united, to combat issues that discredit our coconut resources and industries, such as the misconception on coconut oil promoted by the American Heart Association and others."