DAVID KASEI WAPAR
| Story & Pictures
MADANG - Mirap, a neglected community in the Sumkar District, is the first to host white copra production in Madang Province, thanks to the initiative of a local farmer.
Copra production along this stretch of the Madang–Bogia Highway has seen better days.
Over the years, an unstable copra prices, new diseases and the growth of other industries like betel nut and mustard has dwarfed the coconut industry, suppressing its true value.
But now it seems the industry has taking a positive turn; that’s if all goes well with Isaac Salip’s pilot white copra project.
Recently Salip’s first batch of 1,300 nuts were put on a customised dryer under close observation from officers of the Madang-based Stewart Research Station (part of the Kokonas Indastri Koporesen) and its commercial arm, Coconut Resources Limited.
The project is a result of national coconut training hosted by the research station last October, which attracted participants from copra producing provinces throughout Papua New Guinea.
Salip didn’t waste any time after returning from the training course: he began work on the dryer on 1 January while everyone was celebrating the new year.
The introduction of white copra is a milestone not only in Mirap Village but across other copra producing areas throughout the province.
The Mirap model farmer had to dig deep into his pockets to buy the ideal dryer at a cost of K3,000. It’s worth it, says Salip.
He says that 60% of about 800 Mirap villagers and their neighbours are involved in copra production.
With the full roll-out of white copra production, there are good prospects for the province to benefit.
White copra is high grade copra produced using an oven to reduce the meat moisture content to 5%.
The fresh coconut is dried into clean white copra using indirect heating ensuring that only hot air makes contact with the coconut kernel.
“I have deep appreciation for the involvement of the Kokonas Indastri Koporesen,” Salip said. “The outcome of the pilot white copra project is important to other aspiring producers.”
Godfrey Savi, director of Madang Department of Agriculture and Livestock, is very supportive of the product.
“Production of white copra is the turning point to reviving the industry,” Savi said.
“It has a direct impact on 90% of the population in Madang’s four major coconut growing districts - Bogia, Sumkar, Madang and Rai Coast,” he said.
Savi appealed to district development authorities in Bogia, Sumkar, Madang and Rai Coast to assist by funding the white copra programs.
He is optimistic of these latest developments and said “despite all odds, the coconut industry is picking up”.
As for Isaac Salip, his first batch of white copra has been bought by the Kokonas Indastri Koporesen in Madang as it stockpiles for eventual export in the coming months.