Government of the Republic of Fiji
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
A Better Fiji through Excellence in Foreign Service
17th September 2012: The coconut industry can create many jobs for both formal and informal sectors if the farming is structured and managed well. These findings were made by the Minister for Social Welfare, Women and, Poverty Alleviation, Dr Jiko Luveni during her visit, organised by the Fiji High Commission – New Delhi, to Kerala on 12th September.
The State Government of Kerala hosted the ministers’ visit to explore opportunities associated with the Coconut Industry that could be duplicated in Fiji. Kerala is India’s largest coconut industry states where large population is dependent on this sector for living and other entrepreneurial activities. The minister, accompanied by Fiji’s High Commissioner to India, Yogesh Karan, met with the Professors of the Kerala Agricultural University (KAR) and stakeholders of cottage industries associated with the coconut and its bi-products. Minister Luveni said that she was impressed with the extensive research being done in the coconut industry and the extension work carried by the university to assist coconut farmers and the community on the best methods to plant coconuts. She further said that coconut farming in Fiji need to be revived and farmers and stakeholders exposed to the potentials are extensively available in the coconut industry. Moreover, she said that farmers have to be taught basic scientific methods for sustenance of the coconut palms for better yields for commercial viability. The minister requested the University (KAR) for collaboration with Fiji for specialised training in the coconut industry and farming. The Universities Coconut Research Station provides assistance to farmers through demonstration of modular farms, training and coconut seed production. Fiji’s High Commissioner to India, Yogesh Karan, said that the Government is working on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government of India on Coconut Industry where expertise can be sourced from India. He further added that coconut industry in Fiji needs to have an integrated farming methodology for greater returns of the space utilized and structured farming for better yield as done in India. The Minister also visited villages in the interior of Kerala to observe the cottage industry, particularly where women were involved in the coconut industry and its bi-products. The minister said that it was a learning experience to see that every part of the coconut, from the roots to the tip of the leaves, are used in some manner or other for income generation in India. The pith of the coconut, which becomes a bi-product after extraction of fibre, is one of the best ingredient for gardens and nursery for moisture retention. The minister said, “I am very impressed to see how women make good quality rope, using coconut fibre using low-cost automated machines, for exports. We in Fiji have all the raw materials and I want to introduce these ideas in villages. I am impressed how the women use the same space in between the coconut palms to plant, banana, pepper, beans, and other vegetables. On top of that they have small poultry and cattle farms, all interdependent.” She further said, “Our women in Fiji need to be empowered so that they can adapt these scientific farming techniques to boost the cottage industry and create employment. Women of all ages are involved somewhere or other in this industry and all of them make a living. There are also community projects to bottle coconut juice and milk to be sold in shops that are simple to do and I am very keen to introduce these ideas to our women in Fiji.” Minister Luveni will be travelling to Rajasthan later in the week to be the Chief Guest at the Barefoot College where ten women from Fiji will be graduating in Solar Energy at the College.
[Photo caption: The Minister, Fiji's High Commissioner to India - Yogesh Karan with Professors and Staff of the Kerala Research Station]
Ministry of Foreign Affairs P. O. Box 2220 Government Buildings Suva, Fiji