Farmer keen to get white copra on top


THE Mirap area of Madang’s Sumkar is the first district to host white copra production in the province, thanks to the initiative of local farmer Isaac Salip.
Copra production along this stretch of the Madang-Bogia Highway, during the height of the industry, had seen better days.
Over the years, an unsteady price, emerging diseases and other informal industries, such as betel nuts and mustard, outgrew the coconut industry, suppressing its true value.
But it seems the industry in this part of the world is taking a positive turn.
That’s if all goes well with Salip’s pilot white copra production.
His first batch of 1,300 nuts were put on the customised dryer recently under close observation from officers from the Kokonas Indastri Koporesen’s (KIK) Madang-based Stewart Research Station (SRS) and its commercial arm the Coconut Resources Ltd (CRL).
The project is a result of the national coconut training hosted by the SRS last October, which attracted participants from copra producing provinces throughout the country.
Salip did not waste time after returning from the training.
“I began work on the dryer on Jan 1 while everyone was celebrating the New Year,” he said. Salip said the introduction of white copra production was a milestone not only in his Mirap village but across other copra producing areas throughout Madang.
Indeed, the Mirap model farmer had to dig deep into his pockets to get a perfect semi-permanent dryer at a cost of K3,000.
But he said it was worth it.
According to Salip, 60 per cent of the 800 Mirap villagers and their neighbours were involved in copra production.
With the full roll-out of white copra production, there is a prospect for maximum benefit from the industry in this part of the province and Madang as a whole.
“I have deep appreciation for the involvement of the KIK,” Salip said.
The outcome (of the pilot white copra production) is important to other aspiring producers.”
Abel Komolong, SRS’s coconut resource officer who was on site to supervise the first phase of the Mirap project, commended Salip and other aspiring farmers that gathered to learn more about this improved coconut product.
Meanwhile, the Madang office of agriculture and livestock has been supportive of the product.
Director Godfrey Savi thanked the KIK board and management for the establishment of CRL, which is promoting white copra and the coconut industry at large.
“Production of white copra is the turning point to reviving the industry, which has a direct impact on 90 per cent of the population from Madang’s four major coconut growing districts of Bogia, Sumkar, Madang and Raicoast,” Savi said.
While the Madang government is yet to officially establish a working relationship with the KIK, agriculture and livestock extension personnel are working with KIK’s research and development team to help smallholder farmers with the distribution of kiln pipes and renovating copra dryers to suit white copra production standards.
Savi appealed to the development authorities of Bogia, Sumkar, Madang and Raicoast to assist its people by counter-funding these white copra programmes through the partnership with KIK.
He said he was optimistic with the latest developments in the coconut industry.
“Despite all odds, the coconut industry is picking up,” Savi said.
For Salip, his first batch of white copra will have been bought by the KIK office in Madang, as it stockpiles for eventual export in the coming months.