50th APCC opens in Pohnpei, FSM

Silver anniversary of the association timely as FSM looks to jump start its coco industry


PALIKIR, FSM – Delegates and Ministers from Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, India, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Jamaica, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Tonga, Vietnam and the Federated States of Micronesia kicked off the 50th Asia Pacific Coconut Community Ministerial Meeting today.

The four-day event is being held at the China-FSM Friendship Center, on the sprawling campus of the College of Micronesia, nestled on a plateau between vistas of the cloud forests and barrier reef of Pohnpei.

FSM Vice President Alik Alik was the Keynote Speaker at the meeting which is being hosted by the National Coconut Development Authority.  The Vice President made a point of how the Tree of Life was an integral part of the daily lives of nearly every family in FSM, and the fact that the coconut tree is a consistent feature of ‘the vibrant agroforest system” that dominates the landscape in the Federation.
New APCC Executive Director Uron N. Salum, the first Pacific Islander to head the organization, stated in his opening remarks, “We have a challenge in front of us to ensure that the coconut is a cash crop for small rural families throughout the Asia-Pacific region.”

“At the same time, we often have a question on why the small farmer remains with the coconut…but it is not a question to us.  In our island states and coconut producing countries many rely on the coconut for our basic livelihoods, for shelter and for health.  There are examples of many viable, successful processing technologies.  Compared to 20 years ago technology has significantly advanced and this is a great encouragement, particularly in the Pacific Island countries, where we can take our coconut sectors to another level.”

Salum noted that the rapid technological advances in the coconut industry of the Asia-Pacific nations allow the APCC to play an “increasingly important role in developing the coconut sectors for its members.”

50th APCC Chairman, Secretary of FSM Department of Resources and Development Marion Henry, advocated for foreign and domestic private sector involvement and investment into a more fully functioning coconut industry in FSM.  According to Chairman Henry, this will drive the long-term growth and sustainability of the sector, and importantly, enhance livelihoods, job growth and income opportunities for families and farmers.

APCC member country statements were also delivered on the first day meeting.  A few of the salient points from the Country Statements:
Fiji produces 165 million nuts per year from 6.8 million coconut palms, most of which is used to produce Crude Coconut Oil (CNO);
India is the largest coconut producer in the world, with production of 22 billion nuts annually;
Jamaica palms have been hit hard by what is known as Lethal yellow disease since 1997, and the government is targeting the planting of 60,000 seedlings in 2014;
In Kiribati, the contribution of coconuts to national export earnings has been as high as 75% in the period 2010-13;
Malaysia produces 539 million nuts per year and is embarking on a government rehabilitation program to double yield from 3,500 nuts per hectare per year to 7,000 nuts per hectare per year; and,
RMI produces 35 million nuts annually and expects to produce 7,500 tonnes of copra in 2014, with $3 million earned from export revenue from the sale of coconut oil.
APCC Plaques of Recognition were presented to notable contributors to the coconut sector: the late Rosa Namio Nanpei, the only other GM of the FSM CDA since its inception in 1981, received a post-humous award for his many years of hard work and dedication to help farmers in FSM; and, Mr. Catalino Sam, former long-time FSM CDA Chairman and current President of Ponape Coconut Products, one of the major private sector coconut operators in the nation.

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