The National, Tuesday May 19th, 2015
By Dalsie Hannet
THE export of agricultural commodities in Papua New Guinea is based on raw produce, which are value added elsewhere.
Much has been said about downstream processing of produce in PNG however very little has been done.
The canarium or galip nut is currently being developed and promoted as a healthy indigenous product and as such has to be processed in the country before it is exported.
One of the major constraints to commercialising the galip nut is the poor quality and inconsistent supply of the nuts due to lack of proper processing and packaging facilities or technologies available in the country.
To export the galip nuts the industry must have modern post-harvest handling and processing methods available in the country.
To enter the formal local or international markets the product must be of high quality and meet all local and international food quality and safety requirements.
The kernels will need to be of the right size, colour, texture and taste, moisture content and be free of contaminations such as aflatoxin.
Galip nut has been traditionally processed in villages for many years.
Nuts were harvested by allowing the ripe fruits to fall naturally onto the ground and were collected and transported to the village in woven baskets or empty bags.
The pulps of the fruits were removed by either hitting the fruit with stones or left in heaps or in woven baskets to rot.
The nuts were then washed and dried in the sun for three to seven days before being stored in woven baskets and hung over outdoor kitchen fires.
The nuts were cracked by hand using two stones and were eaten immediately.
However, an export industry cannot be based on the traditional post-harvest handling and processing methods.
Modern post-harvest handling and processing techniques for commercial galip processing have yet to be fully developed although it has been the focus of a number of projects aimed at promoting the marketing of processed galip in PNG, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.
The National Agricultural Research Institute’s (NARI) Islands Regional Research Centre in Keravat, East New Britain, has built a pilot processing factory for galip nuts based on processing methods used for the macadamia nut processing in Australia.
In Vanuatu, commercial galip trade is based on small scale solar or oven dried fresh galip nuts.
Farmers crack nuts soon after harvest (within three days of harvest) and sell to a processor who buys nuts in testa and stores them in the freezer and processes them in small quantities by removing the testa and drying in dehydrators, ovens or solar dryers.
These are packaged in labelled bottles or plastic bags and sold to tourists, supermarkets and hotels.
The galip trade in the Solomon Islands is similar to Vanuatu and is based on fresh galip nuts but the drying is done in traditional stone ovens and kernels are sold in local markets and retail stores.
However, the quality is much lower than Vanuatu’s galip nut.
NARI is promoting and developing a system based on dried nut in shell rather than the fresh kernel. This step has been taken to minimise loss, and improve and maintain the highest quality standards.
To produce good quality and marketable galip products under this system, the freshly harvested fruits must pass through several stages of processing.
This is illustrated in the diagram below left.
The process involves pulp removal within three days of harvesting, quality check by float testing before or after removing the pulps, drying with nuts still in the shell under low temperature for up to five days and dried before being graded and ready for shell removal.
After the nuts are cracked further processing is done under strict controlled conditions, testa is then removed after dipping in hot water or scalding which softens the testa for easy removal and at the same time kills any bacteria present in the kernel.
The kernels are then re-dried and sorted or graded before products are developed, packaged and stored ready to be distributed. As the galip industry develops, food safety, food security and quality issues will arise, however all stakeholders, from the farmer to the processors and consumer, should be responsible in maintaining the quality and safety of the galip nut production.