─ The ministry intends to establish two coconut nurseries at Charity and Kairuni
Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha said that $1.25 billion will be injected into the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI)toboost its agricultural diversification agenda with focus on coconut and horticulture.
The Hope Coconut Estate is also expected to benefit from the initiative.
Minister Mustapha told the National Assembly on Thursday, that the previous administration mismanaged and under-resourced the agriculture sector, particularly NAREI, one of the country’s leading institution for fruits and vegetables.
The Minister added that the Hope Coconut Estate was found to be in a poor financial position with less than $120,000 in its bank account compared to what was left in 2014 by the PPP/C government.
“Coconut is the third most important crop and as such the coconut industry will be given importance by (the government) – promoting expansion in acreages, inter-cropping, utilisation of coconut by-products, [and] increasing production/productivity,” the Agriculture Minister said.
To increase access and reduce the cost of coconut planting material, the ministry intends to establish two coconut nurseries at Charity and Kairuni. This will allow for 25,000 additional seedings to be produced annually.
In addition to NAREI and the Hope Estate providing planting materials, the minister said that farmers would also be trained to establish their nurseries.
“Technical support would also be provided to farmers in the management of pests and disease, especially the Red Palm Mite. NAREI will wean the first batch of 50 in vitro coconut plantlets. This new initiative will allow farmers to have access to clean planting materials to achieve such.”