Special unit to oversee coconut sector
Published on: Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Selangor: The government plans to establish a special body to manage, drive and regulate the coconut industry. Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub (pic) said the industry has seen tremendous growth with increased demand for coconut-based products globally.

"As such, I would like to invite other countries which have conducted similar practices to share their experience with us on the process of establishing a coconut industry governing body," he told reporters at the 54th Asian And Pacific Coconut Community (APCC) Session and Ministerial Meeting here on Monday.

Salahuddin said the World Bank Commodity Outlook Report released in April 2018 forecast coconut oil price to increase from US$1,110 per metric tonne in 2016 to US$1,275 in 2018.

He said the rise in demand was fuelled by increased use and the perceived benefits of coconut products, such as coconut virgin oil, by consumers.

However, Salahuddin said the coconut industry in Malaysia and some member countries faced challenges in production caused by the weather, competition with other crops due to limited fertile land and low productivity.

The industry was also affected by the negative propaganda by certain quarters on the health status of coconut oil and other edible coconut products, he said, adding that the American Heart Association recommended against the consumption of coconut oil, claiming potential risks like heart disease.

"Until we rebut this in proper and systematic ways, these false claims will not simply go away.

"We need continuous dialogues, consultations, scientific findings and evidence to resolve the issue," said Salahuddin.

He said Malaysia needed to strengthen its relationship with other APCC members, especially in areas such as the propagation of higher yield seedlings, prevention of diseases and embryo culture technology to increase productivity.

Salahuddin said Malaysia had launched several initiatives to invigorate the coconut industry, especially in addressing the increasing need for raw materials for value-added products, including the promotion of high-yield coconut seeds to improve productivity.

He said for more than 30 years, the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI) had conducted coconut-related research and development to find new high-yield hybrids or varieties that could produce more seeds, some of which were introduced recently.

MARDI had produced six new coconut varieties, including the Karina and Karini variants which are suitable for drinking while the rest are for coconut milk.

Nevertheless, he said Malaysia welcomed the assistance from APCC countries, especially in sharing research results and promotion of a sustainable coconut industry.

APCC is an intergovernmental organisation of coconut producing countries established in 1969 under the aegis of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia Pacific.

The APCC has 18 member countries which produced over 90 per cent of the world's coconut supply and exports of coconut products.

The APCC member countries include Micronesia, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Kiribati, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, Vanuatu and Vietnam, while Jamaica and Kenya are associate member countries. –Bernama

Photo Source: Bernama


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