Canarium indicum is an indigenous tree throughout the South Pacific, producing edible nuts as well as timber. The nuts are little known in international markets, but there is strong domestic demand in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Processing and value adding to canarium nuts would open up world nut markets to Pacific Island countries. This project will build on domestic markets while investigating value-adding and processing opportunities for both domestic and export markets. Research will address problems in quantity and quality of supply, processing techniques, and in types of products and markets within and between the three countries.
We have made excellent progress against the first year’s milestones.
The major scientific achievements are:
Research on tree selection shows that the profitability of the industry could be greatly increased by selecting trees with large kernels and high kernel recovery. In some cases the kernels of the best selections are around twice the size of the worst.
Trials of a new processing methods of drying fresh kernels show that temperatures of above 60C will reduce kernel moisture content to below 5 % in only 1 hour whereas drying at 50 C does not reduce moisture substantially below 10 %. These results highlight the need for efficient drying systems at the correct temperature.
Early results indicate that the nuts need to be drier when packaged than currently is the case in order to prolong storage.
Microbiological test results of samples taken through the processing chain indicated that samples were mostly acceptable for Australian food standards, although many were marginal. This highlights the need for improving food safety standard during processing.
Key negative impacts on market and product development include the lack of capacity to supply product, maintain a consistent quality and quantity supply, and need for product specifications, all of which currently impact people’s desire and capacity to be involved in the industry. Initial benchmarking data have been collected, against which final benchmarking data will be gathered, to ascertain impacts on the socio-economic livelihoods of smallholders. Key benchmarking indicators include growth in plantings and harvesting, the domestic industry and the commercial industry and associated profit returns, progress on standardization of the industry, and capacity (knowledge of growing and marketing needs, as well as ability to supply).
This project has built capacity through training, and suppling equipment. Processors in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu have benefited from training on nut quality and ways to improve quality and shelf life. Project staff from USC and University of Adelaide are working in partnership with chain champions in Solomon Islands and Vanuatu staff to improve processes for drying, moisture loss and shelf life and have provided training, information and equipment to processors.
Staff at the Solomon Islands Ministry of Forests have been trained in assessing tree volume, early fruiting and flowering. They were also trained in weighing and measuring fruit and how replication influences the experimental design. Scientific ovens were installed in the Vanuatu Department of Forests, Port Vila and staff at the Vanuatu Department of Forests were involved in oven drying trials.
In the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu new markets for canarium products are opening up for farmers as more processors become involved and are buying larger quantities of product from farmers. The canarium industry in Vanuatu is growing and currently 5 organisations have expressed an interest in processing canarium products, and most are already actively processing. The industry has increased since the start of the project with a new processor now selling product in supermarket shelves. They commenced processing in 2011 and processed 500 kg of kernel in 2012 and are planning to triple production to 1.5 tonnes in the coming year. Interest in the canarium Industry in the Solomon Islands is strong. The Nut Grower’s Association Solomon Islands (NGASI) now has 500 members and is led by Richard Pauku (Maraghoto Holdings).
In PNG staff at NARI have been involved in experimental planning for kernel drying, storage and roasting experiments. This training has resulted in several experiments being commenced. Interest among farmers in East New Britain, PNG has increased with large plantings of canarium seedlings supplied by NARI. Approximately 200,000 trees have been produced in the NARI nursery and distributed to small holders and cocoa plantations over the past four years. At present there is no commercial market or processing factory for these nuts and the focus of the next 2 years will be to partner with commercial partners to drive the nut processing industry.
We have made excellent progress against the milestones. The industry has continued to grow in Vanuatu with five processors and value adders and increased production of value added product. A pilot processing factory opened at NARI in PNG as a showcase for processing techniques developed in this and previous ACIAR projects. We have identified new market opportunities, developed marketing plans and protocols for new products and examined food safety.
The major achievements are:
We have learnt more about the different market segments, consumer preferences and product development opportunities as we have conducted multiple surveys and interviews in all countries. Tourists were most interested in raw, roasted/salted and chocolate coated products and were willing to pay between 500-1000 Vatu (AUD$5-10) for a packet of snack nuts.
A survey of Australian nut enterprises showed that 67% of companies believed canarium nuts have commercial appeal in the Australian market. The most suitable market segments suggested were health stores, gourmet food, boutique stores, bakery and confectionary. Best value adding was thought to be roasted and salted.
Other export market opportunities have been identified, with nut samples provided to Haigh’s chocolates and also canarium oil to Jurlique for possible inclusion as an active ingredient in their skin care range. One company has expressed interest in canarium oil as an ingredient in hair care products.
Paradise Foods in PNG has been identified as a potential private sector champion of canarium products. They developed a pilot cookie with canarium products and produced artwork for the packaging.
A canarium fair is being planned by NARI in PNG for September this year.
A draft canarium nut marketing strategy for the direct business-to-consumer market has been prepared for Lapita Caf.
Microbial testing highlighted the need for improved food safety standards during processing.
Shelf-life experiments have demonstrated that using a domestic vacuum-packaging system dried kernels can be stored with no decrease in quality for six months.
Protocols for roasting, salt roasted and sugar coated have been developed and information shared between countries.
An extensive data set has been gathered on the best performing families of trees from the SPRIG trial on Kolumbungara Is, Solomon Islands.
The project has built capacity through:
A regional stakeholder workshop in Honiara, where participants from Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Australia shared information and experiences. In particular, information sharing networks were established between the Vanuatu Department of Forests and the Solomon Islands Ministry of Forests, and processors from the two countries.
Helping to develop processing techniques for the NARI pilot factory.
Lapita Caf owners Votausi MacKenzie-Reur and Geordie MacKenzie visited the Sunshine Coast, Australia in April 2014 to gain information on product development and marketing strategies from macadamia factories and marketing experts in Australia.
USC staff are currently conducting a shelf life storage experiment for Doni Kelly, owner of Jedon Organic Food Ltd in Honiara, Solomon Islands, and assisting with information on processing protocols.
Training on the solar drying by the Department of Industry in Vanuatu on the PARDI tamarind project has opened up access for farmers to dry and sell canarium products.
The project has made excellent progress against the milestones in PNG and have completed all activities in Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. The industry has continued to grow in Vanuatu and capacity has grown in the Solomon Islands and PNG. The major achievements since the last annual report are:
A canarium fair and workshop was held in PNG in September 2014 that brought all major stakeholders together and developed a draft road map for industry development. Currently the major barrier to developing the canarium industry in PNG is the lack of enterprises who intend to buy process and market canarium.
Canarium product produced at the NARI Pilot Factory was successfully promoted and sold at the Melanesian Spearhead Group Investment Roadshow and Trade Fair, held in Port Moresby during November 2014. Trade Fair attendees from throughout the Pacific, Australia, New Zealand, the EU and South East Asia were unanimously positive as to the look and taste of the product and there was no price resistance to the premium prices charged from either Papua New Guineans or visitors to PNG 10.
Protocols for salt roasted and sugar coated products were developed at the National Agricultural Research Institute in Keravat PNG. Microbial testing highlighted the need for improved food safety standards during processing.
Shelf life experiments on commercially prepared canarium nuts from Papua New Guinea commenced in September 2014 and ongoing analysis will continue until September 2015.
Shelf life experiments on commercially prepared canarium oil commenced in November 2014.
A series of modules has been prepared to ‘train the trainer’ on canarium nut protocols, including ” Best practices for canarium Harvest and Post-harvest care”, “Guidelines for Farmers and Village Collectors “
An extensive data set has been analysed for 3 years on the best performing families of trees from the SPRIG trial on Kolumbungara Is, Solomon Islands.
Extensive analysis of stakeholders and changes since the start of the project has shown that there are clear economic increases in cash, labour and indirect economic growth benefits to individual processors and farmers in Vanuatu.
The project has built capacity through:
Providing equipment such as oil presses, crackers and data loggers. Oil presses using a hydraulic ram to press the broken kernels have been found to be effective and have been provided to project partners (NARI in PNG).
Providing assistance with processing, nutritional analysis, and packaging for processors (Jedom, Lapita, ACTIV, NARI).
Helping to develop business and marketing plans for the private processors and the NARI pilot factory.
This project has improved market access for farmers as processors have been sourcing more raw material and value adding to supply higher value product into markets.