Coconut Products has two divisions, Coastal Estates, situated around Kokopo and Toboi Oil Mill in Rabaul. This area of East New Britain is known as The Gazelle Peninsular.
Coconut Products is one of the oldest companies in PNG. It was registered in Rabaul in 1930. Prior to this it had functioned as part of WR Carpenter's trading and shipping business. At the time of registration Coconut Products had plantations and trading interests throughout the country.
Planting of cocoa under coconut was pioneered and started in the mid 1950's. The 60's and 70's saw a thriving desiccated coconut business which was finally phased out due to market forces.
The 1994 volcanic eruptions in Rabaul resulted in Coconut Products moving to the present site at Ulaveo near the new airport.
Today the plantations are confined to the Gazelle Peninsular and the copra buying business is carried out mainly in East New Britain and the surrounding provinces.
Coastal Estates has some 2,200 hectares planted with Coconut, Cocoa and Balsa. Further uncultivated areas are being planted in pasture for the increasing cattle herd. An aquaculture project and meat packing project are currently being established.
Currently 2,200 hectares are planted with coconut and most of this is underplanted with Cocoa, Balsa and pasture.
Most of the coconut planted dates back to the 1950's and earlier. Whilst high yielding hybrid trees have been planted they have been susceptible to Rhinosorus beetle devastation and trees in production largely remain selected Gazelle and Renal Island Talls.
About 2,200 tons of dried copra is produced per year which is processed at the Toboi Mill.
New small dryers have been installed to produce "finger cut" copra, and though "ceylon cut" is still produced on some of the plantations this product is more expensive to prepare with costly dryers susceptible to catching fire.
Currently the area under cocoa stands at around 1,300 hectares. As the cocoa trees reach the end of their economic cycle of 12 to 14 years a few blocks are being replanted but most are being diversified into other crops.
The cocoa is largely Trinitariao/Amazonian cross with both seedling and grafted plants on fifty-fifty basis.
Whilst the reason for diversification away from cocoa are mainly economic, dictated by poor world prices, other reasons are cocoa diseases, theft and shortage of labour.
Cocoa from the Coconut Products fermentry is shipped in jute sacks under the 'Gunanur' mark direct to Hamburg. The Gunanur plantation fermentry has a capacity of 4,000kgs per day.
Present production of cocoa bean is around 600 tons per year. The bean produced are mainly sold into the European market. Because of their fine flavour and the high standard of production controls 'Gunanur' beans are classified as 'Fine Flavour Cocoa' and receive a premium price.
The current area under Balsa is 380 hectares with 150 hectares being planted each year and to be harvested on a five year cycle.
Balsa is planted at a spacing which gives a stand of 1,100 trees per hectare. Harvested logs are sold to a local processor who saws them into different sizes for export to Europe and China.
Balsa wood is used in the model making industry and is also a light weight PVC coated composite used in boat building as well as for aeroplane and spacecraft construction.
The cattle herd is being rapidly built up and currently consist of 1,300 head of mainly Brahman cross cattle. It is envisaged that there will be 3,000 head by 2008. In the next 12 months a further 400 head will be purchased.
Bulls and heifers are obtained from leading farms in PNG and an Artificial Insemination programme is being carried out.
At present 240 hectares of pasture are being planted per year. Fencing and installation of watering points are being done with the pasture work.
Copra meal from the Toboi mill is used as a supplementary feed.
A butchery and meat packing facility has been established and 20 cattle per month are slaughtered. This will increase to over 30 per month as the herd increases.
Construction of 10 x 1 hectare prawn ponds on Tovarur plantation is nearing completion.
Tiger prawns (Panaeus Monodon) are the species which will be farmed although there are also a number of equally suitable species in local waters.
It is envisaged that crops of around 4 tons per hectare will be harvested on a 7 to 8 month cycle. The idea is that with low density production disease will be less likely.
Initially most of the product will be marketed in the country.
Coconut Products is the biggest employer in East New Britain.
Coastal Plantations provide direct employment for 1300 and Toboi Mill employs 180 mainly tradesmen and skilled workers.
Most employees live in company housing, and a housing upgrade programme is in continual progress.
In addition Coconut Products provides work and spin off benefits in the depots and buying points as well as in Kokopo and Rabaul.
In the Mill and in the Plantations apprentices in various trades are employed in National Apprentice Board cources. regular training courses are also run with Naqia for copra assessors. In addition there are a variety of other courses and continual on the job training.