PAPUA NEW GUINEA COCONUT SECTOR FACES MASSIVE RESTRUCTURING

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By Denys Iorere

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (April 9, 2002 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---Papua New Guinea's coconut industry will soon undergo a massive restructuring to achieve real growth.

This follows Parliament approving the Kokonas Indastri Koporesen (KIK) Bill 2002, which paves the way for the streamlining the industry.

The present Copra Marketing Board will be replaced by a more flexible entity, which will deregulate the marketing of coconut products.

Under the new set up, the role of the government will be defined to allow private sector partnerships to prosper.

The transition process from the Copra Marketing Board arrangement to the KIK organization will require a period of adjustment.

This will include the establishment of the necessary by-laws and regulations to facilitate the process of deregulation of the coconut marketing function.

The transition period is expected to take between six to 12 months.

The membership of the KIK Board is to representative of the major players in the industry, but will ensure that smallholder producers hold the majority of directorships.

Marketing licenses will be issued under prescribed conditions to be defined by regulations or by-laws to permit plantation owners to export their own produce, or to private buyers operating within a defined area.

The National Copra Freight Subsidy Program, approved by the national government, will continue to be implemented by KIK over five years.

A study into the copra freight situation has already started and the results will guide the freight subsidy program for KIK.

It is also proposed that KIK establish an industry fund and an extension fund.

These funds will support research and extension programs for coconuts and will benefit the coconut farmers directly.

The restructuring of the coconut industry is the first in a series of reforms in the agriculture sector as part of the recently approved National Agricultural Development Strategy Horizon 2002-2012 project.

A major legislative review has also been proposed.

The government has moved quickly to restructure the coconut industry following widespread criticism of the Copra Marketing Board.

The new KIK will be a regulatory body under its own legislation and will operate as a public company under the Companies Act.

KIK will promote the production, processing and marketing of all coconut products and by-products, as defined within the new Act.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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