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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, July 2) – About 5,000 copra farmers have been registered as the Coconut Industry Development Authority moves to revive the industry.

The authority recently presented a paper to the interim Cabinet on its plans and the industry's future.

CIDA chief executive John Teaiwa said copra production had been on the decline and past government efforts had only slowed the decline.

He said the industry lacked a long-term policy for replanting, product diversification and market promotion.

He said previously 70,000 hectares of land, the same as sugarcane, had been used for coconut plantations but this had fallen to 60,000 hectares.

"In terms of trees, there are an estimated six million and the bulk of them have passed the economic age," he said. "We should have 50-60 nuts per tree but now we are getting half of that. As trees get older, copra production goes down."

Mr Teaiwa said the authority had prepared a plan to revive the industry and that included starting work on establishing coconut planters and processors association in district areas on Vanua Levu and Viti Levu.

He said the authority had already registered 5,000 copra farmers and expected to have registered 20,000 in the next five years.

Mr Teaiwa said copra production had nosedived annually although monthly the production increased when in season.

CIDA figures show that in January this year 731.596 tonnes of copra were bought by millers.

In February, millers bought 643.578 tonnes, March 767.298, 962.173 tonnes in April and 878.420 tonnes in May.

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