P.M. calls for sustainable development of global coconut industry

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Dr. Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, has officially opened the 56th International Coconut Community (I.C.C.) Session and Ministerial virtual meeting, calling for a sustained effort to develop the industry globally.

Opened on Tuesday, Tuilaepa said that Samoa as a funding member of I.C.C. is delighted to note the increasing membership of the group to 20 countries, which accounts for over 90 per cent of the world’s coconut production and exports.

“As you are aware, this includes eight Asian countries, nine Pacific Island nations, and one in the Caribbean, one African country and one in Latin America,” Tuilaepa said.

The I.C.C. exists to promote, coordinate and harmonise the activities of the global coconut community and industry, for the sustainable benefit of the lives of millions of small farmers as well as those engaged in production, processing and the marketing of coconut products.

“Our collective mission therefore, is to ensure the sustainable development of our I.C.C. member nations, through the opportunity of our regions owning a significant proportion of coconut resources that contribute to the enhancement of the livelihood of our peoples," Tuilaepa said.

“This is evident in the statistics which most importantly also highlight that a significant proportion of our coconut production are by our smallholding communities of growers.

“It is also not lost on us that our coconut communities satisfy environmental objectives in our efforts to mitigate climate change and global warming through our replanting efforts.”

In addition, Tuilaepa called for continuous support for coconut growing countries through the I.C.C. Secretariat, which brings us to focus on the most important strategies to sustain good livelihoods, industries, pristine environments and cultural heritage, as is mostly emphasized through the S.I.D.S. Accelerated Modalities of Actions Pathway (or S.A.M.O.A. Pathway), and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (S.D.G.) Agenda 2030, as most of you are aware of. 

“We, refer to the coconut tree as the ‘Tree of Life’. Other trees have also been confirmed the same honor but none is more useful than the coconut.

“We know through time, that all parts of the coconut tree are advantageous to life. The challenge that faces our coconut community is not lost on us in that as global demand for our coconut products increases of our plantations comprises of old trees. And this is also the continuous threat of forest posed by the coconut beetles. 

“It is a time to be vigilant with researching new varieties of coconuts that are resistant to pest and diseases. It is a time to consult, dialogue, establish and re-establish all associations with our traditional and new interested partners to design and develop technologies that will foster mutual benefits.”

Prime Minister Tuilaepa also reminded everyone that their collective national, regional and membership desire is to achieve positive and increased sustainable benefits for our peoples.

“It is therefore our responsibility to ensure that established development objectives for food security and quality nutrition for our peoples are realised, whilst boosting economic growth via increased exports of our coconut products.

“We all have to scale up our collective efforts in our replanting programs for time is of the essence and the coconuts we grow today can realistically bear fruits and be harvested in five to seven years. So the concept of replanting plans to ‘harvest in time’ is of most important.

“Coconut in the Health and Nutrition spheres has become an important oil base ingredient in the fight against [non-communicable disease] N.C.D. and other health issues.”

Further, he encouraged all I.C.C. member countries to be strongly united, to combat issues that discredit our coconut resources and industries.

“My Government will play its part in the enhancement of national policies and awareness programmes to support our I.C.C. efforts.

“Further and more importantly, we are in unprecedented times during this COVID-19 pandemic which poses the greatest threat to global public health, economic growth, and of course the growth of our coconut sector.

“We therefore need to develop an improved ‘preparedness and response plan’, and create space to stay productive during this COVID-19 pandemic.  We must also research and promote coconut oil and coconut-based products as potential immune boosters against COVID-19 infection.”

Tuilaepa also relayed that he was informed that their I.C.C. Secretariat has signed the Memorandum of Understanding with various institutions and organisations to collaborate in research and development, capacity building, and technology transfer via seminars and webinars, and especially collaboration in clinical trials on VCO and other coconut-based products, against COVID-19 and other diseases, to scientifically prove the health attributes of our coconut products.

“I acknowledge with much appreciation our member countries for your individual and collective efforts, and our development partners and observer organisations, who continue to provide technical assistance and financial support, towards the development and sustainability of our coconut resources and industries.”

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