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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Port Vila Presse, April 21) - Shefa Provincial Planner Michel Kalworai reports that copra production among the farmers in Shefa Province has started to pick up.

"Most of the farmers, including mamas, are seen in the rural communities carrying with them bunches of green coconuts to their respective farmers association or cooperatives. Both farmers and their associations are now earning from this production," he said.

Shefa Province, through its rural economic development Initiative office, massively campaigned last month for the production of copra and cocoa, as there are already four companies that buy and export both copra and oil. Prices of copra range from 28 to 32 vatu (US25 cents to 28 cents) a kilo among these companies.

Shefa initially campaigned together with Vanuatu Commodity Marketing Board as the latter had constructed an oil mill in Santo and manufactured bath and laundry soaps scented hair oils and cooking oil.

"But lately VCMB fade out because of certain problems. I hope VCMB could come back immediately as they have noble plans with Ifira Trustee Limited to put up one high warehouse in Ifira Wharf both for domestic and international trading," Kalworai said.

Meantime, Shefa REDI facilitator Manuel Jayme said, he just returned from Tongoa Island and he has witnessed the production of copra.

"People in Tongoa are happy selling back their green coconuts at Vt 8 per kilo. These green coconuts are currently bought by Lambukuti Cooperative and processed the same into copra. The Cooperative had successfully rehabilitated a hot air Drier for copra drying and employed at least two people. The drier produced 16 -20 bags per load, " he explained.

Mr. Jayme, however, observed that practice in copra farming is still crude. A lot of coconuts can be seen abandoned and wasted on the ground, as farmers here have to wait for the coconuts to fall down.

He explained that in the Philippines, world No 1 producer and exporter of copra, farmers use hook and sticks to get green coconuts from the tree.

"Farmers get one or two bunches of coconut per tree every two or three months. That's why farmers get more fruits and income every-time they harvest they harvest from copra. This would be good enough to support the children' s education. He promised to order those hooks in the Philippines and maybe demonstrate it here in Vanuatu," Mr. Jayme said.

April 28, 2004

Port Vila Presse:


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