Cook Islands progresses on rebuilding pawpaw export


Cook Islands’ Ministry of Agriculture is progressing in revitalizing its once thriving pawpaw export industry. New Zealand has been the main export market for the fruit. But exports were hampered by problems related to the re-certification of the High Temperature Forced Air (HTFA) plant to ensure quarantine standard compliant quality for entry into New Zealand.<!--more-->

The HTFA plant earlier this year failed to qualify after a commercial audit. This meant there was an over-supply of the pawpaw on the local market. However, this was easily absorbed as it coincided with the peak of the year’s tourist arrivals at the time.

The ministry held a meeting last week at the heat treatment facility to inform the status of the HTFA. Present at the meeting was expert Dr Michael Williamson, who is contracted by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs to oversee and certify the facility as well as Nandi Glassie and Kiriau Turepu, the Minister and Deputy Minister of Agriculture respectively.

Dr Williamson is in the final stages of tests and if the results are satisfactory will certify the plant. He told the growers that the New Zealand markets were very interested in Cook Islands pawpaw. He suggested that the management of pawpaw exports should be privatised with government supporting such an entity. “This is a cooperative model that seems to work with other countries exporting papaya such as Fiji and Malaysia,” he added.

Minister Glassie urged growers to maintain a consistent supply of pawpaw and assured them that the ministry was making a commitment to support them to supply New Zealand with fresh Cook Islands pawpaw and that this would not happen without the commitment by the growers themselves.

Meanwhile, PT&amp;I Auckland is gearing to help Cook Islands pawpaw exporters re-establish markets in a once lucrative market for the fruit, once exports restart. The decline in availability of pawpaw from the Cook Islands has resulted in pawpaw from other countries like the Philippines fill in the gap.

– From a report by Manarii Etches, Trade and Marketing Officer, Cook Islands Business Trade Investment Board