Cook Islands: Rarotonga growers to establish a pawpaw cooperative

This week, potential pawpaw exporters will meet to discuss getting the fruit into the New Zealand market. On the agenda of the meeting is the possibility to establish a cooperative.

John Tierney, one of the speakers, said he wasn’t keen to discuss it prematurely but said a discussion about a cooperative was on the agenda. Still, pawpaw grower Danny Mataroa said: “forming a cooperative is the easy part.” Mataroa added that the cost to put a cooperative together was $70, but it is the $1.5 - $2.0 million heat treatment plant that is “a necessary component if pawpaw is ever to reach New Zealand.”

The absence of a heat treatment plant is a major concern for growers. Mataroa told he wanted the pawpaw buyer to pay for the plant, adding that the growers have prepared for pawpaw export three times now without a heat treatment plant being established. Mataroa said growers had started planting the fruit after the first meeting. He said if the heat treatment plant is not established it will be the fourth time growers would be disappointed.

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