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Vanuatu coconuts go organic

by Redaktion (comments: 0)

Vanuatu has started to convert its largest coconut plantations to organic in February 2013, Australian Organics reports. Four hundred hectares of coconuts, farmed by 216 growers from Sanma Community Coconuts on Espiritu Santo Island are converting to organic. In addition, the largest single owned coconut plantation, Plantation Russet du Vanuatu, covering 1550 hectares, is also converting to organic. The changes are part of the Vanuatu Sustainable Agri-Business Initiative (VASABI) that was launched by the organisation African Pacific in conjunction with the Vanuatu Government, the Vanuatu Agriculture College, World Vision Vanuatu and Australian Organic (formerly Biological Farmers of Australia). This is the first organic project World Vision Vanuatu has funded (through New Zealand Aid project support). (Picture: preparing green copra is a real family affair)

Coconut processors Vanuatu Virgin Coconut Oil is certified and Coconut Oil Production Santo Ltd is working to achieve organic certification. Australian Organic’s subsidiary company Australian Certified Organic (ACO) is certifying farmers and processors. Australian Organic’s Greg Paynter says Vanuatu is seeking broad organic certification to give it access to as many markets as possible: “It’s great that organic certification can be a vehicle to improve the social capital and livelihoods of people from the rural sector.”

The population of the Republic of Vanuatu (located in the South Pacific Ocean) is 234,000, spread over 83 islands, with 85 % of the population being farmers. Producers will sell virgin coconut oil, crude coconut oil and copra meal (dried coconut kernel) to Australia, New Zealand, the European Union and the USA. African Pacific estimates the farmers will contribute to producing up to 400 tonnes of organic virgin coconut oil and 1000 tonnes of organic crude oil each year. CEO of Coconut Oil Production Santo, Bernie Glaser, says, “Organic certification could have a positive impact on the 60 % of the rural population that produce coconuts.” Farmers expect to achieve full organic certification in 2015 and are already looking at converting coffee and cocoa plantations to organic, followed by livestock. (Picture: Coconut farmer of Vanuatu)

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