Free up trade curbs: Marape


PRIME Minister James Marape has urged member states of the International Coconut Community (ICC) to free up trade barriers and restrictions to enable access to viable markets.
Marape was speaking at the 57th session of delegates and ministerial meeting of the ICC hosted by Papua New Guinea this week.
ICC currently has 20 coconut producing member countries accounting for over 90 per cent of world coconut production and exports of coconut products.
“Soon after the massive decline in commodity prices in the mid-1990s, the world coconut industry struggled and our national production was reduced by 50 per cent,” Marape said.
“Many large plantations ceased operations, large coconut lands were converted to other viable crops and land use options.
“Coconut was then termed a ‘sunset’ or a ‘dying industry’.
“Nevertheless almost 40 per cent of this nation’s population was entirely dependent on income from coconut activities, especially copra,” Marape said.
He said he was pleased to learn that in recent years the coconut had come back as a valuable commodity and this had given rise to the ‘coconut revolution’.
“In the last 15 years, the demand for high value edible products of coconut increased in the global consumer markets and newer products emerged.
“The impact of this global scenario induced growth in the industry here and in the neighbouring Pacific states. “Many new producers in small to medium enterprises started entering, in a small way, the international market with very fine products with a few winning international ‘product excellence awards’ out of Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu, PNG and others.”
Marape urged member countries to unite and partner in key areas to enable inclusive growth and sustainability of the industry:
l SHARE technology advancements that can mass produce coconut planting material to meet the increasing demands of farmers in our nations, for elite varieties, to not only replant but to also develop new coconut lands;
l FREE up trade barriers and restrictions to enable access to viable markets;
l COLLABORATE and exchange useful knowledge, information and technologies to increase productivity and enhance value addition efforts; and,
l COOPERATE in biosecurity measures that protect our crops from threats of pests and diseases.