The Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SICCI) participated in the International Training on Coconut Products Development held early this month at the Palmae Research Institute (BALIT PALMA) in Indonesia.
The training was conducted as a development cooperation program on the field of coconut development for farmers, small farmer groups and other small organisations in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly those with similar characteristics of coconut farmland in Indonesia.
The training aimed to empower coconut farmers to build their business and livelihood. Solomon Islands was one of the thirteen participating countries from across the Asia Pacific region.
Representing Solomon Islands through SICCI, was the Chairman of the Solomon Islands Coconut Industry Working Group (CIWG) Bevan Vollrath, and the Export Industry Development Officer, Ms. Samantha Maeke.
The coconut tree, often called the ‘tree of life’, plays a significant role in societies and economies across many countries across Asia and the Pacific.
Its importance spans across many spectrum from economic and cultural values to aesthetic and health benefits. However, higher value could be obtained from the coconut tree as a commodity in comparison to what is currently being utilized.
The coconut industry faces huge challenges specifically rural coconut farmers and processors, who are the current dominant players in the arena.
Some of the issues experienced by coconut industries across the region include lack of mechanical coconut processing technologies, inadequate pest management techniques, inefficient and ineffective coconut value-adding methods and limited government policies that are coconut specific and prioritized.
In response to the identified challenges, the training explored alternatives to manage these challenges using a wide range of knowledge and skills brought by each participant. It provided informative and ‘look and learn’ sessions on topics including the zero waste concept, improved coconut processing machineries and value-adding methods, better coconut varieties for higher quality and yields, good management practices, proper pest management and promoting information-sharing and networking.
The coconut industry in Solomon Islands can benefit from the training outcomes by utilising the knowledge and skills shared. On the local scale, coconut farmers can benefit by applying good management practices, the zero waste management concept coupled with value-adding products production and early stages of pest management.
As part of private-public partnership, the Solomon Islands Government and the private sector is encouraged to continue to further its support for farmers and farmer groups with acquiring relevant coconut processing machineries as well as using effective and efficient pest management methods. More so, there should be easily accessible information on coconut products development as well as strong farmer and coconut industry linkages between Asia-Pacific countries coconut sectors.
SICCI sees trainings like this as invaluable not only to the coconut industry but to the entire economy. SICCI expresses appreciation to the Indonesian Government for the opportunity to be part of the training.
Plans are in place for the lessons learnt from the training to be shared through the Solomon Islands Coconut Industry Working Group (CIWG) to ensure sustainability of the coconut industry, as well as improving the socio-economic wellbeing of farmers and Solomon Islanders into the future.
– SICCI Press Statement