Learning opportunities at Cocotech 2018
Monday, 01 October 2018 16:16

The 48th APCC COCOTECH Conference and Exhibition was held on 20–24 August 2018 in Bangkok, Thailand.  The conference is organised jointly by the Asian and Pacific Coconut Community (APCC) and the Government of Thailand’s Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.

The Coconut Industry Development for the Pacific (CIPD) project supported the participation of Cook Islands, Palau, Nauru and Tuvalu at the conference. Other Pacific countries in attendance were Fiji, Kiribati, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Papua New Guinea, resulting in the largest ever Pacific presence at COCOTECH, reflecting the renewed commitment to supporting the development of the coconut sector in the Pacific region.

The conference theme was Sustainable coconut development through climate smart agriculture, product innovation and advancing technologies. The meeting covered new technological developments on coconut production, particularly planting and replanting systems, varietal improvement, use of selected local elite planting materials and hybrids, coconut-based farming systems, integrated pest and disease management, post-harvest processing, technology updates in the manufacture of emerging coconut products for the domestic and export market, cost effective technologies on integrated coconut processing, and marketing strategies. Experts from the research and development sector, industry, and the private sector provided input as resource speakers.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture of Fiji, Mr David Kolitagane, described the event as ‘eye opening’.  ‘Clearly the opportunities for the coconut industry are there; we need to be strategic in our approach to our development,’ he said.

COCOTECH resulted in 36 recommendations that will be tabled at the APCC ministerial meeting in late September. While all recommendations are relevant to the Pacific region, three in particular stemmed from specific interventions by the Pacific delegates and resource people. These are described below.

Recommendation 6: It is evident that organic farming principles and practice present positive results, indicating that it is a viable option for farmers. APCC is to arrange to effectively disseminate all relevant information collated for use by the coconut communities.

Recommendation 13: Market trends indicate a significant increase in demand for organic certified products. Major challenges are the acquisition and maintenance of organic certification, especially for smallholders. It is necessary for APCC to work with Pacific governments to: (i) ensure that policies are in place for organic farming and certification; (ii) assist with the cost of acquiring and maintaining organic certification; and (iii) ensure that there are trained personnel to assist and monitor organic farmers and farms, especially smallholders, and instill the disciplines of quality control and assurance.

Recommendation 18: Rhinoceros beetle, especially the Guam bio-type, has a devastating effect on large populations of coconut trees in the Pacific region. It is causing serious damage and is a real threat to the coconut industry. The coconut community is urgently seeking new, effective methods and technologies to prevent serious large-scale crop loss that would impoverish coconut farmers. An APCC network of experts is called on to provide input and add value to current and ongoing interventions in the Pacific region.

The complete list of recommendations will be released by APCC after the ministerial meeting