PNG Post-Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Oct. 4) – The Kokonas Indastry Korporasen (KIK) is heading in the right direction by encouraging Papua New Guinea farmers to concentrate on the processing of their own produce.

The coconut industry group is doing this to help producers deal with the lack of roads and other infrastructure needed to get their dried copra to markets.

Board chairman Joe Eko said after the series of forums earlier this year identified the lack of road infrastructure as a major impediment to the industry, especially in terms of marketing of copra.

KIK plans to supply small copra mills to selected local government councils and wards where the farmers could mill the copra and sell virgin oil. KIK estimates 14 bags of copra could produce five litres of virgin oil which could then be easily transported to the markets and sold.

The coconut industry has been through some of its worst times in recent times and this new initiative is certain to reap benefits to the producers. Downstream processing is the way to go and KIK has taken the first steps with the farmers.

The next step should be to go beyond the production of virgin oil into other more value-added products. The days of exporting raw copra to overseas buyers must end. It is time to take a new look at the industry in order to return more benefits to the hard working producers and growers and the country as a whole.

We have been exporters of primary produce for a long time. Now is the time to turn to downstream processing in order to create more jobs for our young people as well as increase our earnings from our produce.

We commend the KIK board for its vision and for having the courage to look at new opportunities to assist growers get a better return for their produce. There is much work being done on the industry and this new initiative shows that the industry is poised for a bright future in the coming years.

October 5, 2005

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