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07/02/2013

Vanuatu’s largest coconut plantation goes organic

by Dr John Paull

Vanuatu’s largest coconut plantation goes organic Foto: © holgs / iStockphoto

Vanuatu is a cluster of 83 tropical islands in the Pacific Ocean, 1800 km north east of Australia. Over 80% of the population are engaged in agriculture.

In 2012, Vanuatu reported 2664 hectares of organic agriculture but this is set to double. Australia’s leading organic certifier, Biological Farmers of Australia (BFA), reports that Vanuatu’s largest coconut grove, the 1550 hectare Plantation Russet du Vanuatu is converting to organic. Also in conversion to organic is the community grower group, Sanma Community Coconuts, with its 216 growers and 408 hectares. 

According to BFA: “In Vanuatu coconuts are generally already grown organically with no synthetic fertilisers because the soil is very fertile; however organic certification will require farmers to keep more records of farm practices”. Organic certification is aimed at achieving a 20% increase in farmer incomes and products will include organic coconut oil and organic copra.

The processor Vanuatu Virgin Coconut Oil is already certified organic and Coconut Oil Production Santo is underway with certification. Bernie Glaser, CEO of Coconut Oil Production Santo, says that “Organic certification could have a positive impact on the 60 per cent of the rural population that produce coconuts”.

The Vanuatu conversions to organic are supported by the Vanuatu Sustainable Agri-Business Initiative (VASABI). This initiative has been driven by African Pacific in conjunction with the Vanuatu Government, the Vanuatu Agriculture College, World Vision Vanuatu and BFA.

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