The PIFON consultancy team for the Coconut Industry Development Project (CIDP) has just recently returned from Honiara, Solomon Islands after undertaking a Value Chain Case Study on High Grade Copra Oil. CIDP is an EU supported project implemented by the Pacific Community (SPC-CIDP) through the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States Intra ACP programme.
For most uses other than food, high quality copra oil is a suitable substitute for Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO). Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu use small scale copra mills to produce high quality copra oil. With high quality copra, meeting quality standards for oil will be much easier than with that for a VCO mill of the same size. Thus investigating small scale high quality copra oil value chains, both for domestic and export markets, has been chosen as a priority for the CIDP.
According to findings from a recent Coconut market study, also a component of the CIDP, copra oil and copra have been, and continue to be, the core export market for most Pacific Island coconut industries. Recent years have seen a more favourable market situation for the traditional Pacific Island Countries (PIC) coconut export products of copra and coconut oil, with prices reaching record levels. When it comes to copra exports, the PICs remain a major player – making up over 50% of world exports (with PNG being the world’s largest copra exporter). They are unfortunately also ranked as the must unstable of all agricultural commodities which PIC copra farmers and millers are already aware of.
A value chain (VC) roadmap for producing high grade copra oil produced with small scale “Tinytech” (or similar) mills under the SPC-CIDP Project is currently being prepared using the tool “Agricultural Value Chain Guide for the Pacific Islands: Making value chain analysis a useful tool in the hands of farmers, traders and policy makers”. This will focus specifically on the case study of the Chottu and Co. value chain, with an emphasis on the domestic market. The VC guide can be obtained here.
The purpose of CIDP is to improve the competitiveness of smallholder farmers, that they be more competitive and be able to access and benefit from the market.