As a company that produces coconut oil, Serendi Coco Samoa, has predicted that in 5 years’ time, the country won’t have any coconuts. This is because all the trees were planted decades ago and there hasn’t been a massive replanting boost particularly for coconuts.
Company Internal Control System Manager, Tusituna Niuvali, says “Replanting really is mixing everything to minimise the diseases and at the same time it provides the farmer a short return, like an annual crop, while waiting for the coconut in 6-7 years.”
Through using the Dynamic Agro forestry farming, they are in a partnership with the Samoan Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to boost the replanting of coconuts. The Dynamic Agro Forestry farming system creates a natural forest-like system with high biomass production and gives as side effects of a large variety of products for humans. It uses cutting of the plants to keep the forest system at a youthful state and thus to promote increased biomass production.
Ms. Niuvali said, “We’ve decided to use Dynamic Agro Forestry because we feel that the system minimises the diseases.”
Although their end product is coconut oil, they utilise the whole coconut. Ms. Niuvali said, “… we have other bi-products which is, when we’re milling the copra to produce the oil, we get copra mill … for animal feed… some people are buying this for their cattle and pigs.”
The corpra mill is exported to Australia.
“We use the coconut shell for fire wood… because we have so many coconut shells, we turned them into charcoal.” Ms. Niuvali said.
The coconut charcoals are sold in Samoa for 10 Samoan Tala which is equivalent to K13.
Serendi Coco Samoa is a joint venture of a local company, Pacific Oil Samoa and Dr. Bronners which is the biggest soap making company in the US. The joint venture now on its third year has transitioned to become an organic and fair trade coconut oil source for small holder organic farmers.
Company Internal Control System Manager, Tusituna Niuvali says “We are connecting the market opportunities and the market potential and what the market requires with what is happening at the grassroots level.” She added, “How else they would know, the buyers, how else would they know, and that there is husk and coconut shell and all that available. We enjoy being the connection with the buyers and the suppliers.”
Besides challenges of suppliers’ consistency, the struggle now is to get coconuts to produce the oil. This is why they have gone back to the replanting and strategising with the farmers.
As Samoa works to boost the regrowth of their new coconuts, the coconut provides more than just food for all island nations.
By Lillian Sopera Keneqa – EMTV News, Port Moresby