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FAO Initiatives To Make The Coconut Industry Globally Competitive

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is a technical agency of the United Nations, which is mandated to eliminate world hunger and rural poverty, to increase agricultural production and improve the living conditions of rural populations. Specifically, FAO is involved in programs and projects, which are focused on increasing agricultural productivity, poverty alleviation, food security, income generation, and livelihood improvement of people in rural communities particularly the small landholders.

 Coconut is generally produced by small landholders and tenants in about 38 coconut producing countries  of the world who are among some of the poorest sectors among the farming communities. Hence, it is one of the key commodities where FAO attention is focused.

A new FAO TCP project (TCP/MDV/3101) called 'Production of  Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) and Value-added Products fo r the Enhancement of  Livelihoods and Food Security Through Income Generating Opportunities in Maldives' commenced in March 2006 with a budget  f USD $459,000 over a two years period. This assistance forms part of the post-Tsunami Rehabilitation Assistance for the Republic of Maldives.

The project objectives are:

Improvement of incomes and livelihoods and a reduction in overall vulnerability of small rural islands' household groups and coconut producers in the Maldives through:

• Introduction of small-scale innovative technological interventions to extract high quality VCO from fresh coconuts to make use of the coconut resource which is mostly unutilized.

• Production of high quality, value-added products for sale to reduce the need to import and to generate additional income from international tourists.

The FAO - Maldives VCO Project once shown to be economically sustainable, could become a model coconut processing micro-enterprise development for island countries globally, with a well-developed tourist industry.

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