Forest and Agriculture Diversification

 

An important constraint to implementing sustainable agriculture and forestry practices is the limited number of crops and products that our communities rely on for income generation and for their general livelihoods. Identifying and promoting currently minor agriculture and tree crops and products that have the potential to enhance the income of farmers and communities will provide a vital contribution towards the implementation of sustainable practices by our people. Through the EU-funded FACT Pilot Project, direct assistance is being provided to selected partner enterprises in both forestry and agriculture to enhance their exporting capacities.

Potential income from old coconut trees
Wednesday, 16 June 2010 11:22

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) in collaboration with the Australian Centre of International Agriculture Research (ACIAR) is organising a half-day seminar to create awareness on the potential of the senile coconut palm with the theme, ‘Coconut Wood High Quality Flooring – A New Potential Industry for the Pacific’.

The seminar which is also being supported by Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI) will be held at the Holiday Inn hotel in Suva on Thursday, 3rd of June 2010.

The seminar directly addresses a recommendation of a regional workshop on coconut wood utilisation held in 2004 to look at ways to effectively use wood from senile coconut palms in the Pacific.

According to Sairusi Bulai coordinator of Forestry and Agriculture Diversification Programme within SPC’s Land Resource Division, a declining interest in the coconut industry is attributed to low commodity price and low production resulting in less return.

“The low production is mainly attributed to senile coconut palms in the plantation.”

“The only way to reinvigorate the interest amongst the communities to replant their old coconut plantation is to provide high economic return to the senile trees.” Mr Bulai said.

He added that during the mid-70’s and late 80’s a lot of effort was made  to look at in detail the properties of wood from senile palms and to determine the most appropriate end uses for the material.

“This was mainly due to the findings that economic value for the senile palms was considered a vital component for success of any coconut revitalisation programme.” Mr Bulai said.

The ACIAR-funded project through DEEDI in the last three years focussed on developing appropriate technologies and processes to produce high quality flooring from wood sawn from senile coconut palms targeting the high value international market for hardwood flooring.

Flooring was one of the best options because it was thought that technology and skill level required to produce flooring could be easily made available at Pacific island country level, especially at the initial stages of the production process.