New businesses are expected to enter the coco de mer value-added production sector while existing ones may get their permit renewed when a selection committee announces who has been successful with their proposals next week.
The head of the committee assessing the businesses looking for permits, Dr. Lindsay Chongseng told SNA that “following site visits to the premises of those who have shown an interest in producing value added products, the results should in essence be made public by the end of the month.”
Chongseng is among the five individuals on the committee to determine whether the production ideas are sustainable or viable and evaluate their level of hygiene among other criteria.
He added that for those “companies already doing what they set out to, it is a given that their licenses will be renewed.”
After a ban imposed in February 2017 by Danny Faure, the president of Seychelles at the time, was lifted in May the same year, three businesses obtained a permit to produce and trade the coco de mer kernel.
The three companies – Willow Ventures, Island Scent and Bill &Co Pty Ltd – were successful following a call for proposals in May 2017.
Currently, some of the products from the coco de mer available on the market are brandy, jams and perfumes.
The principal forestry officer in the department of environment, John Quilindo told SNA that “we have companies that have shown an interest to produce pharmaceutical products – adding to other products already available.”
The coco de mer is the world’s biggest nut and is endemic to Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. It grows naturally only on two of Seychelles’ islands, on Praslin, the second most populated island, in the Vallee de Mai special reserve, which is one of the island nation’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, and on Curieuse Island, located close to Praslin.
As part of the initiative, the businesses with permits also had to contribute five percent of their turnover to the government during the three years they had the permit.
To ensure this industry is sustainable, the authorities in Seychelles, launched programmes aimed at planting the rare nut all over the country.
“While it will take some time before we see the benefits of the initiative, this goes a long way to keeping the industry sustainable,” said Quilindo.
The coco de mer seed needs two years to germinate and the plant takes 20-40 years to grow, start flowering and bearing fruits
Chongseng said that the initial reason for launching the industry was, not only to focus on transforming the nut but ensure that those doing so are sourcing it legally.
“Poaching was a huge problem at some point,” Chongseng added.