Enhancing Inclusive Sustainable Economic Development through Coconut-sector Development

Farmers produce virgin coconut oil and its by-products in Kiribati. Photo by UNDP


Coconut is known to have a central role in the diets of Pacific peoples and is vital in contributing to food security, health promotion and sustainable livelihoods. The motivation to develop the coconut sector is also triggered by the new interest in coconut-related products such as virgin coconut oil, coconut oil for electricity generation and transportation, coconut water, coconut sap sugar, timber products and toddy, among others.

This project aims to foster income-generation for smallholder farmers and improve their livelihoods through value-added coconut products while contributing to inclusive, sustainable economic development as envisaged in the national development strategy. The project supports the development of the coconut sector strategy and finalization of the roadmap to engage smallholder coconut farmers along the coconut value chain, with identification of commercially viable value-adding opportunities along the chain. 

Lessons learned


Regular assessment of the project by the project Board was found to be useful in improving the targeting of the resources. The Board reviewed the project achievements and explored opportunities to better utilize the resources, focusing on results. The Board suggested adjusting existing activities and including a new pilot activity for the installation and operationalization of a VCO plant, which would bring tangible and scalable benefits to the target population.

Way forward


The Coconut Sector Development Subcommittee is established and operational to oversee the implementation of the strategy. Building on an assessment of the pilot VCO production plant, the Government and UNDP will develop a strategy for the sustainability and scaling up of the project.

Results Highlight


  • The island virgin coconut oil (VCO) processing centre on Butaritari Island is completed and operationalized, benefiting farmers through the value addition of their coconuts.
  • The National Coconut Sector Development Strategy, after undergoing a development and refinement process, was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of Kiribati and disseminated.
  • The Coconut Sector Development Subcommittee that will oversee the implementation of the strategy has been established and is operational.  
  • As a result of the coordinated efforts towards value-added virgin coconut oil production, more than 60 smallholder farmers are involved in coconut production.

Key features


Smallholder coconut farmers


Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives; UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji




January 2018–December 2020

Mostly contributing to

“I say to the women: ‘Do you have a coconut at your house? Do you have a fallen coconut leaf? Well, you can start to make money from that! I will teach you how. Always think of what you have in your own homes. Start from there.’”
Mrs. Tongafiti Cross, Trained educator from Aia Maea Ainen Kiribati (AMAK)/ National Council of Women in Kiribati