DOMESTIC consumption of coconuts, widely used as a food ingredient in Papua New Guinea, is a multi-million kina business that is keeping the coconut industry alive, according to the Kokonas Indastri Koporesen (KIK).
This, according to KIK acting industry affairs manager Alan Aku, was the saving grace for the coconut industry as copra prices and production hit an all-time low in 2012.
He told The National last Friday that contrary to popular belief, the industry was not “dying”.
“We estimate that about 300 million nuts are consumed in this country (per year),” Aku said.
“That’s very conservative.
“Looking at 50t per nut, you’re looking at a K150 million industry.
“Looking at this domestic industry (coconut), people don’t realise how much coconut is consumed in this country.
“That’s increasing largely because the consumption in the Highlands has increased.
“Coconuts are moving up by the thousands into the Highlands in containers
“Although we may ask ‘how much is this contributing to the economy’, it’s a domestic trade in itself.
“It’s a big, big industry.
“We (at KIK) plan to institute a market survey this year to establish how much coconut is brought up to the Highlands as a food commodity.”
Aku said the industry had so much untapped potential in other products such as virgin coconut oil (VCO), coconut coir fibre and coconut lumber, among many others.
“Some people say it’s a dying industry but there’s a lot of potential in it,” he said.
“We still believe the coconut industry is a sleeping giant.
“We really need government support to revive the industry.
“We are also looking at quality controls on the coconut products.”