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Global Developments Affecting Competitiveness Of The Coconut Industry In Kiribati

Coconut industry is viewed by Government as an important means to promote its overarching goal o f equitable distribution o f prosperity and has made appropriate policy commitments to boost copra production and thus the income o f the farmers. To improve income from the copra, the oil mill has been establish to add value to the commodity producing crude oil and copra meal for export and coconut oil based products for import substitution in products like soaps, cooking oil, perfumed body oil etc for the. There are also intended government projects and initiatives to develop other coconut based industries such as timber, virgin coconut oil production and other by products with the latter being of interest with non-government organizations. In recognition o f the need to boost production. Agriculture operational plans and strategies puts as one o f its emphasis, increasing coconut production.

With its given location and distances from export markets and between the islands, Kiribati continues to face challenges: high costs in oil export operations, internal efficiency and productivity issues in the current copra industry set up posing the need to improve efficiency in the transfer o f copra from outer islands, the need to rationalize the industry set up for cost effectiveness and efficiency in decision making purposes. There presently exist structural, infrastructure, financial and transport impediments that need to be addressed and with late study by an FAO funded expert there is anticipation that government w ill look closer at the issues with expectation to resolving them amongst which is the urging need to improve copra transfer that currently impinge on oil production.

Given the export and marketing issues for crude oil and ever-increasing price of fuel, total utilization o f oil for the domestic market is the most logical approach. Current worldwide moves towards use o f vegetable oil as substitute o f fossil fuel presents a viable alternative for Kiribati. There are on-going efforts towards this direction recommending production for domestic consumption, bio-fuel/bio-diesel and new on the agenda is the power generation using 100% coconut oil as fuel for electricity production.

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