Canarium indicum nuts are marketable products with great potential to improve the livelihoods of rural households in the South Pacific. At the moment the Canarium nut industry is small in world terms, but there is strong consumer demand and acceptance of the product in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. In these countries there is great potential for expansion of the domestic markets and developing an export market. A major constraint to increased commercialisation of the C. indicum industry is poor quality of the nuts due to postharvest handling and processing.
This project is aimed at the development of post-harvest handling and processing techniques that optimise quality, while being appropriate for small-scale agriculture. The project will take advantage of expertise and experience in the Australian macadamia industry.
We have made excellent progress against the first year’s milestones. We have some very important findings already on methods and technologies for Canarium processing. These will be used to inform best practice processing methods for Canarium and provide a solid basis for the second year of experiments. The project commenced in late April 2008 and has had only 1 fruiting season to date. We have also made significant progress on developing a participatory model, information gathering, and developing awareness raising material.
The major findings are:
Nut-in-shell when placed in water can be separated on floating or sinking. Nut-in-shell that floats generally has no kernels or small, possibly immature kernels, resulting on poor kernel recovery. The recommended processing protocol is to separate floaters and sinkers at point of purchase. Floaters will be of lower value and can either be discarded or downgraded.
Drying nuts at 40 C increased the percentage of whole kernels to around 80%. This is a very significant finding as Canarium nuts tend to break into small fragments and these are very difficult to market. Appropriate drying will improve the percentage of whole nuts and the whole nuts are likely to be the highest value processed product.
Nuts dried at 60 C showed excessive browning compared to nuts dried at 40C after 3 days.
Nuts dried at 40 C showed translucence after 3 days (translucence may be an indicator of nut damage).
As nuts dry, the testa sticks to the kernel and becomes more difficult to remove.
Solar dryers have been trialled for drying Canarium nuts. Nuts were placed into the trays for 2 days and temperatures measured. The temperatures were quite high, above 47 C and likely to damage the nuts.
Drying trials will now focus on finding drying regimes that increase whole kernel without causing damage such as translucence.
We are trialling some existing technology from the macadamia industry for Canarium processing and have had some success, for example
A TJ’s nutcracker used for macadamias has been modified by the manufacturer for use with Canarium (Appendix 1). The nutcracker has created strong interest from growers in PNG and many have expressed interest in purchasing one.
A small scale drying silo used in macadamias has been built in PNG using local and imported materials.
We are investigating whether a small scale depulper used in the macadamia industry can be used for Canarium
The project has conceptualised a Canarium Industry Association as a participatory governance structure that will oversee all activity in the Canarium industry, including this research. This structure is envisaged as a multi-pronged approach to domestication and propagation, marketing and processing and will coordinate project activities, disseminate information and be a conduit between agencies and community representatives. It is expected the government will take the lead on this participatory structure.
An initial activity has been to set up information dissemination via the production of a regular newsletter that provides updates on projects and other information. The newsletters are currently available in English and Bislama and distributed at workshops as well as available through partner agencies.
Some baseline and contextual data have been gathered from document analysis and semi-structured discussions. These data have been analysed as key themes against which strategies can be developed to progress the Canarium nut industry. Rural industry participatory planning techniques will be used to flesh out strategy development and implementation in the sector, across sectors and across regions.
Objective 1: To adaptively develop and evaluate with relevant stakeholders the appropriateness of the C. indicum nut processing techniques.
Following the first stakeholder meeting in Vanuatu (reported in 2009) the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, with the Department of Forests, have implemented agreed actions and drafted a rural development plan aligned with their national Agriculture Sector Policy (2007) in which the Canarium nut industry development is described. The participatory meeting in April 2010, comprised of growers, processors, researchers, government officers and other stakeholders, endorsed the next steps for the industry: the support and coordination of farmers organisations in Malekula and Efate; further funding applications to continue progress of processing and participation project; clarification over intellectual property arrangements for branding and marketing product lines; and development of industry standards for selling produce. In Vanuatu information dissemination to all stakeholders, and via stakeholders to their community members, continues in the form of a newsletter developed by project staff and distributed by the DoF central and regional staff. The third of these newsletters, reporting on the recent Vanuatu workshop, is currently being finalised.
A workshop in PNG brought together growers, processors, researchers and other stakeholders to discuss barriers and important issues in the Canarium industry. The data gathered during this workshop was analysed. Discussions are underway through a Steering Committee to establish and refine the form and function of a Canarium industry development association. Other strategies developed at this workshop include a range of actions needed for market study; further actions needed for post-harvest handling, and for developing quality specifications, documentation and training; and ongoing horticultural research and development.
Objective 2: To identify most appropriate methods and technologies for pulping, drying, cracking, testa removal, roasting, packaging and storing of C. indicum nuts
The project has made very good progress towards pilot processing methods for commercial Canarium indicim. The major achievements since the last report include:
1. Identifying depulping equipment adapted from the macadamia industry that could be used on a small scale for depulping (Appendix 1). The equipment is simple to manufacture as it is based on readily available materials (built from a tyre) and could be either hand or machine operated. The designs have been developed and sent to NARI PNG for trials.
2. Refining drying trial. The previous years work has shown that drying above 40 degrees potentially causes damage. Drying below 40 degrees and stepwise drying trials (drying first at 35, then 38, then 45) are showing promise. Further drying trials are in progress.
3. Cracking.The TJ’s nutcracker has been identified as suitable for small scale local processing. A chinese cracker from the macadamia industry has been identified as having potential for large scale processing and is currently being tested.
4. Testa removal. A 90 second hot water dip has been confirmed as the best method for testa removal. This needs further testing under commercial conditions. A publication has been produced describing the methods (Wallace et al Appendix 3)
4. Roasting. Several trials have been conducted and highlight the importance of moisture content for roasting.
5.Storage and shelf life trials are currently in progress.
New sites for nut collection from the bearing galip trees has been identified; and maturity index, drying and storage trials are expected to be done by 2010 as planned.
Objective 3: To provide training and capacity exchange in optimal C. indicum nut processing
Meetings and workshops and have been used to promote best practice processor techniques. Papua New Guinea project staff Matthew Poienou and Dr. John Moxon participated in the Vanuatu Canarium workshop and developed a Canarium Processing 5.Poster for NRI field day.
A chart of defects and an extension bulletin is currently being compiled for completion at the end of the project.