Thursday, February 21, 2008

[PBN] Samoa: Concerns about coconut labour availability


(Alan Ah Mu) Tuesday 19 February 2008

The demand for apple pickers to work in New Zealand could drain so much
manpower to the point where not many workers are left to revive the
coconut industry.

At a time when the coconut industry appears to be making a comeback,
through the setting up of Pacific Oil, President of Samoa Coconut
Growers Association, Sala Vaimili II, is concerned there might not be
enough workers to collect coconuts.

Sala described the setting up of Pacific Oil as a precious "option" for
coconut farmers.

The former Member of Parliament wanted to make it clear that he supports
seasonal work in New Zealand, an option which was looked into when the
coconut industry was at a standstill for a lengthy period.

But since Pacific Oil has emerged, he is concerned about manpower.

"We pray this will be a successful operation," Sala said of Pacific Oil.

"We wish them all success.
"Because it's a win, win, win (situation)."

Sala said it was the "responsibility" of association members to support
the bio-fuel venture.

He said the ultimate aim of Samoa Coconut Growers Association (SCCA) is
to utilise their crop.

Pacific Oil is aiming to produce coconut oil to offer as fuel for diesel
engines in the country.

They haven't been in contact with the company as an association, Sala said.

But some of their members have individually - and are free to work with
the company, he said.

SCCA however has not given up on their dream of establishing their own
mill to produce oil.

Sala said while "grateful" Pacific Oil is to provide an outlet they have
to be cautious and consider the sustainability of the new venture.

Three other coconut oil producers have come and gone and some of their
members got burnt.

Sala said they must not sit back but to keep their mill dream "live."
Managing director of Pacific Oil, Samau Etuale Sefo, is aware of the
stop-go history of coconut oil production.

He told Samoa Observer they are strongly committed to making their
venture work.

SCCA annnounced last year they can secure oil extracting machines from
the Government of India.

But India wants a formal letter from our Government about the matter
Sala said.

He said he has discussed this with Prime Minister Tuilaepa Lupesoli'ai
Sa'ilele Malielegaoi.

Yesterday Sala said they haven't heard back from government about that.

Check for earlier Pacific Biofuel posts:

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