Facilitating Agricultural Commodity Trade

The European Union-funded Facilitating Agricultural Commodity Trade (FACT) pilot project aims to support commercial ventures and producer groups in becoming export-oriented, market-driven enterprises that will consistently supply overseas markets with competitive agricultural and forestry products. The project is implemented by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) in Suva, Fiji and started in May 2008.

COCONUT PRESS: Pacific eyes coconut potential
Monday, 25 July 2011 13:49

Photo credit: Origins Pacific Ltd (www.originspacific.com.fj)There is renewed interest from a number of Pacific Island governments to rejuvenate and rehabilitate the coconut industry.

What’s different from the days of copra is the shift towards value-added products, with private enterprises leading the charge.

One such product is virgin coconut oil, which is increasingly being made by community groups and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) throughout the Pacific Islands region. In addition, there is growing interest in its production and marketing for national and export markets.

To this end, the Facilitating Agricultural Commodity Trade (FACT) Project is assisting stakeholders in a number of ways.

Because quality is of prime importance, the project has been conducting quality standards training to better enable producers to meet stringent export requirements.

The training is in two of the best recognised international quality standards: GMP or Good Manufacturing Practices, and HACCP or Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point.

Also relating to quality, FACT has carried out scientific analysis of virgin coconut oil from a number of countries in the region.

Samples from various countries were analysed in three different labs: Symbio Alliance in Brisbane, Australia; Koronivia Research Station in Suva, Fiji; and University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji.

The samples were analysed according to Asian Pacific Coconut Community (APCC) guidelines.

Initial results indicate that the samples were generally acceptable although some minor adjustments are needed to the processing methods used in order to enhance quality.

The pros and cons of the different processes used to produce oil, particularly the modified natural fermentation method and the direct micro expeller method, have been compared.

Food and nutrition experts at the University of the South Pacific are currently studying the data collated from the analysis, and will soon release their findings in a report, which will be available for download at www.spc.int/lrd.

One observation that emerged from this study is the high cost of analysis per sample, with two of the labs are charging between FJD1,000 and FJD1,800 per sample. This makes the exercise prohibitive for many Pacific Island enterprises. One lab attributed this to the high cost of chemicals used but stated this could decrease if there were a higher quantity of samples.

FACT has also participated in a number of regional coconut meetings and supported a few enterprises in attending the CocoTech (Coconut Technology) meeting organised by APCC in July 2010.

The visits have resulted in increased improvement in the quality of coconut products and have also assisted in the establishment of vital contacts that are critical for the fine tuning of processing technologies and packaging.

IN PRODUCTION
Coco  Sugar

Derived from toddy or coconut sap, coconut sugar is gaining traction as a low GI (glycemic index) food. This is good news for the low-lying atolls in Kiribati, where toddy is traditionally prepared but where there are few natural exports. To assist with the  development of this product, the FACT Project presented vital equipment for the production of coconut sugar to the Kiribati Organic Farmers Association late last year.

Coconut Press is written by Tevita Kete, FACT Export Processing and Marketing Officer (value-added coconut products).

Photo credit: FACT Enterprise Partner Origins Pacific Ltd (www.originspacific.com.fj)

 


The European Union-funded Facilitating Agricultural Commodity Trade (FACT) project is implemented by the Land Resources Division of SPC.