SPGA advertised the sale of the coco de mer kernel recently. (Gerard Larose)
(Seychelles News Agency) – The Seychelles Parks and Gardens Authority (SPGA) is providing members of the public with coco de mer kernel whenever there is an excess of the product.
The chief executive of the SPGA, Allain Cedras, told SNA recently that what is being sold is the kernel found in the nut collected from the ground and cleaned in order to sell shell later.
Earlier this month, SPGA advertised the sale of the coco de mer kernel recently. The authority is a producer, retailer and wholesaler of coco de mer products which it collects from Praslin and Curieuse islands.
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 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. It also grows naturally on Curieuse Island, located close to Praslin.
SPGA explained that some people contacted its offices as they believed it was selling the tender edible kernel but Cedras said that this is not what is on sale as that is against the law to do so.
For the kernel to be edible without added processing, it has to be in a jelly-like state and as soon after the tender nut is harvested from a tree, which is illegal.
The cost of the kernel being sold by SPGA to members of the public is SCR 150 ($11.44) – SCR 200 ($15.26) per kilogramme.
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The price is a special one to deal with the current excess SPGA is faced with; the nut usually fetches $75 per kilogramme for official dealers.
“Depending on how many nuts we collect in the future and how much our dealers return to us, this is a programme that we plan to continue,” said the CEO.
“In the past when we had an excess of nuts, and our dealers found themselves with too much of the product, SPGA would dispose of them in the appropriate manner,” he added.
The hardened coco de mer pulp is already being used in a variety of products and some of the products made from it and available on the market are brandy, jams and perfumes.
As the coco de mer nut is one that is protected under law in Seychelles, individuals must have been granted a permit to process and grow it.
To recall, after a ban imposed in February 2017 by Danny Faure, the President of Seychelles at the time, was lifted in May of 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.
While SPGA is currently selling its excess products, Cedras has re-iterated to members of the public that the authority is discouraging people from harvesting the nuts in trees.
“We are following a sustainable way of harvesting the nuts from the ground and systematically re-planting the ones we collect,” he explained.