The projects are thanks to a joint initiative joint initiative of the European Union, the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) and the Pacific Community (SPC).
The enterprises identified as pilot projects will receive support in the form of technical assistance and equipment meant to enhance competitiveness in the coconut sector. They include Mailelani Samoa Body Care, Samoa Coconut Cluster (SCC), Serendi Coco Samoa Ltd., Women in Business Development (WIBDI), Elcress Agra, and Ambrym Coconut Farmers Cooperative Society Ltd (ACFC).
Managing Director of Elcress Agra Nicolas Monvoisin, said: “The pilot project support will help us grow our markets for organic coconut oil but most importantly through the Farmers Academy it will establish, we will be able to build capacity of our 900 organically certified suppliers to produce a better quality copra which will result in higher returns for these producers on Epi island.”
The pilot projects are being implemented under the ACP-EU Commodity Programme component on coconuts in the Pacific. This initiative is in line with the New ACP Approach on support for the development of agricultural value chains which aims at among others, building capacity and facilitating access to finance.
Ultimately the pilots will be rolled out into the region and upscaled, through mobilisation of investment into the sector and utilisation of the existing intra-ACP envelopes or initiatives such as blending facilities.
During the same launch a market Study titled “An overview of the market for Pacific Island coconut products and the ability of industries to respond,” was also presented. The market study takes a critical look at various possibilities and prospects for Pacific Island coconut producers in non-traditional products such as virgin coconut oil (VCO), coconut water, coconut cream products and coconut timber.
The report investigates vital vegetable oil market developments in the international arena within the past two decades; as well as coconut oil and copra as global trade commodities. The study recommends that the Pacific coconut sector focus on Virgin Coconut Oil for local markets, and high grade copra for export markets as well as cream products and timber veneer.
The market study and pilots are supported by the Coconut Industry Development for the Pacific (CIDP) project, a EUR 4 million (FJD 9.3 million) joint initiative of the EU-ACP and the SPC.