Coconuts are grown and produced in more than 80 countries worldwide. In the Pacific, they are so invaluable to local livelihoods and economies that they are called “The Tree of Life”. Coconut production is a significant source of income for communities across the region, it generates foreign exchange earnings through exports and is important for food security.
Though coconut trees produce oil that is used for cooking, soap and detergents, among other products, in the Pacific the primary coconut product is copra which is used to produce the oil. Despite global growth in the coconut sector since the 1960s, the value of coconut oil declined rapidly in the late 1990s, devastating many Pacific economies that relied on copra exports. An ongoing decline in the demand for coconut oil in the past two decades has also put pressure on copra-producing Pacific countries.
National agriculture and coconut policies in Pacific countries, however, vary greatly, and a minority of 22 of the Pacific Community's (SPC) member countries in the region have dedicated policies. Improving coconut production and development will therefore require a unified approach. The SPC Land Resources Division (LRD) has partnered with the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) to establish a regional platform for coconut research and development in the Pacific. The platform will improve coordination and collaboration in research, trade and investment.
Consultations with governments and other coconut stakeholders have led to the Status report of coconut sectors in Pacific Island Countries and Territories, a comprehensive overview of the current state of the coconut in the Pacific that includes a proposal to establish a regional platform called Pacific Coconet. In addition to backgrounds on the coconut industry in the Pacific and current coconut initiatives and policies, the report proposes a path toward building, launching and managing Pacific Coconet.
Read the full report here.