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Substances naturelles en Polynésie française

 | 
Jean Guezennec
, 
Christian Moretti
, 
Jean-Christophe Simon

Part one. Synopsis and Recommendations

Natural substances in French Polynesia: the current situation

Texte intégral

1Here we make some observations to characterise the local context and the current situation regarding economic use of natural substances in French Polynesia.

BACKGROUND

2Under this heading we highlight the features relevant to our subject. This is not a full description, or even a sketch, of French Polynesia and its economy in general.

The territory and its resources

3The territory as such has the following key features:

  • it consists of 118 islands scattered across an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of some 5,000,000 km2, an area twice the size of Europe;

  • the islands differ widely in terms of population concentration, economic activity and infrastructure;

  • land resources are limited by the small land area (3,500 km2), the topography and soil types; total farmland amounts to less than 25,000 ha – little more than 8-10% of total land area (excluding the coconut groves);

  • major markets are far away.

4With a population of about 250,000, growing at 1.5% a year, human resources are limited, but not static. It is therefore important, for jobs and training, to develop new economic activities. However, the farming population is ageing. Labour costs are a problem for developing new economic activities, because the wage levels and social welfare are considerably higher than in other countries in the region.

5As we shall see in the next section (“French Polynesia’s biodiversity assets”), Polynesia’s biodiversity has definite assets, with many endemic land plants and a wealth of marine biodiversity. It looks promising, though the potential is limited as far as plant substances are concerned. So far it has not been extensively studied, especially from the standpoint of chemotypes and cultivars specific to French Polynesia, and it is not much exploited, only a few species being used commercially. Plants have great heritage value in French Polynesia and many are used in traditional medicine or for ritual ceremonies.

6Few measures have been taken to conserve species or ecosystems and few official initiatives, except in relation to invasive species, which are a major preoccupation for the environmental authorities (Miconia is the main invasive weed and the main exotic insects pests are the glassy-winged sharpshooter (Homalodisca coagulata) and fruit flies). Territorial decrees dating from 1996 define the protection of certain plants and animals and established protected areas in the Marquesas islands, for their flora and tourist potential. The resources for controlling protected areas on such widely-scattered islands are poor, however, and there is no proof that the conservation measures are actually applied.

7As things stand, with no provisions for implementing the key articles of the CBD, the risk of biopiracy cannot be controlled, and cases of resource looting have been reported. A more general question is whether French Polynesia is in a position to play its full part in managing the benefits expected from exploitation of its biodiversity. Conserving biodiversity and protecting rights are priority issues in the CBD era, and are discussed in depth in the expert group review.

  • 1 Coconut oil: it is obtained from copra (dried coconut flesh). It is solid at ambient temperature. I (...)

8In economic rather than environmental terms, the experts noted a concern to protect French Polynesian products using various labelling systems. Since 1992, French Polynesia has had an AOC designation of origin for monoi. AOC projects are also being studied for vanilla and pearls, and there is an “organic farming” eco-certification project for coconut oil1, noni, taro and vanilla.

The economic background

9The main contributors to French Polynesia’s economy are financial and welfare transfers from metropolitan France (about 55% of French

10Polynesia’s GDP), pearl farming and tourism. Both these industries are highly sensitive to the economic cycle in the United States, Europe and Japan, the main customers. Together, these factors suggest that French Polynesia would do well to find new prospects for diversifying its economy, and that any new industry must take these two emblematic industries into account.

11The boom in the noni trade in the late 1990s suggests that the idea of using natural resources to diversify the economy holds some promise. The question is whether the noni success story can be repeated with other products.

12As regards the business fabric involved in utilising natural substances, below we briefly examine existing activities and the particular product chains (see p. 189).

13There are a variety of enterprises utilising natural substances in French Polynesia. There is one major firm, Morinda Inc., the heavyweight in the noni industry, a few medium-sized firms such as CAIRAP and Laboratoires de Cosmétologie du Pacifique Sud, described below by way of example, and numerous small businesses, many of them family businesses, producing fruit juice and cosmetics mainly or entirely for the local market. The only wellorganised product sectors are pearls, monoi, vanilla and coconut oil – four very different industries.

    • 2 A CIFRE (Convention industrielle de formation par la recherche) is an industrial agreement for rese (...)
    • 3 In partnership with the University of French Polynesia and IFREMER.

    CAIRAP has been doing business in French Polynesia since 1989. It was originally an industrial analysis laboratory performing quality control for the food industry. It then extended its business to water testing for hotels, restaurants etc., and consultancy in hygiene and food quality. CAIRAP aims to diversify further, with more R&D work. It is involved in several CIFRE2 theses, including two3 directly concerned with natural substances.

    • 4 Tamanu: Tamanu oil is obtained from the nut of Calophyllum inophyllum, sun-dried for a long time, t (...)

    Laboratoires de Cosmétologie du Pacifique Sud began by producing monoi, and then added tamanu4 processing – an exceptional move, since other firms specialise in one or other of these products. This firm exports 99% of its output, mainly to metropolitan France, supplying major international cosmetics firms with ingredients (purified oils) and raw materials, including fresh plants from the Marquesas.

The business environment: assets for innovation

Scientific and technical infrastructure

  • 5 NMR: nuclear magnetic resonance. NMR spectroscopy of protons and carbon 13 is used to determine the (...)

14French Polynesia is quite well provided and well equipped in this regard, although it is short of costly equipment items such as NMR spectroscopes5, and there is no structure for co-ordinating and managing equipment, despite the complicated situations that arise owing to the fact that the State and the Polynesian authorities run different research bodies.

Research bodies owned by the Polynesian authorities

    • 6 SDR: Service du dévelopment rural.

    Agricultural research and training/extension work is the responsibility of the Rural Development Department (SDR)6. Over the past ten years, the SDR has mainly worked in close collaboration with the Institut Louis-Malardé on noni (selecting morphotypes and developing noni farming) and kava (selecting cultivars).

  • As regards marine resources, research, development research, knowledge transfer and extension work are also part of the Fishery Service’s remit. This Service is currently involved in two operations, one on utilisation of fish waste and one on extracting fatty acids (omega 3) from tuna fish eyes. The latter programme is in collaboration with the Institut Louis-Malardé.

  • The Institut Louis-Malardé (ILM) has been an EPIC (state-owned industrial and commercial agency) since 2001. It has a medical analysis laboratory, a water quality testing laboratory and five research units, one of which is dedicated to work on natural substances. This unit works mainly on volatile and aromatic substances from local flora, and analysing the chemical and biological properties of herbs used in traditional medicine. The ILM is well-equipped, having a gas phase chromatographer, a mass spectrometer and a high-performance liquid chromatographer. It plans in the near future to focus most research on promising substances free of patent restrictions (unlike kava, noni and tamanu), in co-operation with other research organisations working in French Polynesia. The Institute also has a research laboratory working on toxic microalgae, which has built up an algae bank and a bank of ciguatoxin standards.

State-owned research institutes

University of French Polynesia (UPF)

15There are two entities in the university working on natural resource use:

  • The Earth-Ocean research team’s work includes a Biodiversity strand. The team is working to build up an academic flora covering the marine flora of the whole of French Polynesia, studying invasive species and biodiversity erosion of indigenous species (population genetics), as well as marine microorganisms (bacteria, cyanobacteria and micro-algae) with a view to biotechnology applications, this latter in partnership with IFREMER and CAIRAP;

  • The Analytical Chemistry Laboratory is running two sandalwood research programmes, one of them in partnership with CIRAD, a programme on tamanu, and one on fatty acids in mother-of-pearl in collaboration with the ILM. Two of its scientists are working on aromas in French Polynesian fruit.

The research institutes
  • CIRAD operates under an agreement between the State and the Territory (French Polynesian authorities), signed in 1995. Most of its work is in response to demand from the Rural Development Department. The work is organised around three activities: backup research, consulting and product chain studies, and training local managers. Their innovative work includes characterising the sandalwoods of the Marquesas islands and vanilla viruses.

  • IFREMER’s work in French Polynesia mainly concerns aquaculture, research to support the oyster (pearl and mother-of-pearl) sector, by-products of deep sea fishing in collaboration with the ILM and, more recently, marine substances for biotechnology applications of interest to Polynesia.

  • The IRD is working on botanical taxonomy and marine biology, particularly in connection with management of lagoon ecosystems and detection and forecasting of fish stock movements. The IRD has a research centre and permanent laboratories.

The authorities’ attitude to innovation

16The task of coordinating research and technological development falls to the Regional Commission for Research and Technology (DRRT). The DRRT is responsible for harmonising the actions of publicly-owned establishments and conducting or instigating any action required to open up research and forge closer links between it and the socio-economic world, develop industrial applications and organise technology transfers. This mission is none the easier for ambiguities and overlapping competencies between central government and the Polynesian authorities, particularly in the field that concerns this expert group review.

17Given the small scale of productive economic activities in French Polynesia, innovation seems so far to have been a minor issue for public policy and the business community alike. This may indicate a lack of linkage between the research commissioned by the authorities and the expectations of the business community. However, public health issues, environmental problems to do with invasive species or waste management, and occasional events such as the Science Festival, have fostered the idea of introducing new technologies and innovative practices and, more broadly, giving research a firmer grounding in the local social and economic setting. At French Polynesian government level, this new thinking has generated mobilising actions such as the METUA project and the GEPSUN initiative.

    • 7 NICTs: new information and communications technologies.

    The METUA project (Multimedia Environment based on Technologies for a Universal Access) was designed to become the main instrument of French Polynesian policy to develop information and communications technologies in the territory. Decided on in April 1999, it is a significant factor for developing economic activity based on the NICTs7. The idea is to make an asset of the scattered geographical distribution that has until now been a handicap for French Polynesia’s economic development and innovation in general.

    • 8 GEPSUN is a partnership of scientific and business stakeholders. Its definitive legal status as a p (...)

    The GEPSUN8 technological platform project is part of the joint four-year plan contract between the State and the French Polynesian authorities. Its purpose is to strengthen research and development in the natural substances field, setting up interface arrangements that bring together public sector research and the private sector on applied research projects – an interface that had hitherto been lacking. GEPSUN was launched in the second half of 2003, too recently to assess whether it can attain its goals. But it does indicate that public policy makers and some private firms are aware of the challenges of innovation and the need to acquire adequate resources to address them. There are also other indications on the business side, and it can be said that the local context is, overall, favourable to innovative projects backed up by research.

18This approach should be pursued prudently, drawing on scientific and economic expertise together, to avoid the kind of disappointment recently caused by projects that led nowhere, like those on kava and shrimp. That would only discourage potential stakeholders’ interest in innovation.

UTILISATION OF NATURAL SUBSTANCES IN FRENCH POLYNESIA: THE STATE OF PLAY

Exploitation of marine resources

19Were we to keep strictly to the title “Utilisation of natural substances in French Polynesia: the state of play”, this section would be out of place. Current economic use of marine resources mainly involves not substances but organisms of marine origin: deep sea and lagoon fish and crustaceans, pearl oysters.

Fishing and pearl farming

1 euro = 119 F CFP; 1 F CFP = 0.0084 euro. From the paper by Jean-Christophe Simon (see CD-ROM).
Note 12. F CFP: Change Franc Pacifique, the currency used in New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Wallis and Fortuna islands.

20It seemed useful to include the above table to compare the values of exports of the two main types of marine product with that of noni.

  • Pearls accounted for some 80% of local export earnings in 2002, 77% in 2003. French Polynesia is the world’s second largest pearl exporter, supplying one-third of the world market.

  • In 2003, pearls were still by far the leading export revenue-earner, but with a 50% drop since 2000, signalling a serious crisis.

  • In 2003, noni export earnings overtook fishery exports, compared to only a quarter of fishery exports in 2000 and two-thirds in 2002.

21Pearl farming and fishing are of major importance to French Polynesia both for employment (especially in remote islands as far as pearls are concerned) and image. The economic stakeholders, particularly the authorities, are paying close attention to these sectors, with the following three main official initiatives:

  • Supporting research to advance pearl and fish farming methods (this is the role of the IFREMER research centre) and utilisation prospects for fishery by-products (joint IFREMER-Institut-Malardé study). This work mainly concerns potential uses for the EPA and DHA, fatty acids extracted from the orbital fat of tuna fish.

  • Efforts to professionalize product chains and organise them better, starting in 1993 with the creation of the “Perles de Tahiti” GIE partnership. With the crisis in the pearl business over the past few years, French Polynesia has introduced regulations for entry into the business, with a “producer’s card” conferring various advantages and authorisation to “occupy the marine public domain”: successful applicants must show professional aptitude and accept a set of specifications.

  • Efforts towards joint management of coastal areas, aiming to arbitrate between the needs of construction, tourism, environmental protection and economic development (management plans for Moorea and Bora Bora maritime areas). This is an appreciable advantage for seeking new economic uses of the sea’s potential.

22With the strong image Tahitian pearls enjoy, the producers themselves are looking for new ways to use the resource. Probably the most striking example is the use of powdered black pearl in cosmetics. This formulation, promoted by the Robert-Wan Group and the Perles de Tahiti partnership, has resulted in the launch in late 2003 of a new range of “anti-aging” products by L’Oréal.

Other marine resources

  • 9 Kopara ponds: “kopara” is the term used by the inhabitants of the Tuamotu archipelago in French Pol (...)

23Micro-organisms. One significant example of economic activity directly connected with the use of marine micro-organisms is Biolib, a subsidiary of the CAIRAP company. Based on original research work on ecosystems such as the kopara ponds9, it has built up a collection of bacteria, cyanobacteria and micro-algae and is marketing samples. Its particularly innovative technological and marketing approach is probably the practical example that best prefigures future commercial use of French Polynesia’s marine substances.

24Algae. The economic survey mission for this review gathered no information about any current economic use of algae. Should we conclude that French Polynesia has no particular advantages for this niche? If so, is this due to a lack of specifically useful species, labour costs, distance from markets or a combination of these factors? Could part of the reason be the dissociation between research and application (and their respective stakeholders), given that there is a very active algology unit at the University?

Economic use of raw materials from terrestrial plants

Preliminary overview

Source: paper by Jean-Christophe SIMON (see CD-ROM).

Source: paper by Jean-Christophe Simon (see CD-ROM).

25These tables show that

  • noni production has become an important economic activity, employing as many people as copra/coconut oil and vanilla combined, or more;

  • in general, products undergo little processing.

26The following more detailed descriptions of the “plant products” sectors show how widely they differ: comparing coconut oil with noni makes this particularly clear.

Coconut oil

27Production of coconut oil (made from raw copra, which is dried coconut flesh) is a classic example of a subsidised industry, organised by the authorities for social welfare reasons and with a support price higher than the international market price. Under the agreement with the Territory and the price support fund, Huilerie de Tahiti (owned 99% by the Territory) is required to purchase for cash all copra produced at a price set by the authorities. The aim is to guarantee a stable income for producers, support a traditional agricultural activity, help keep the population of the more remote islands (mainly Tuamoto-Gambier) on their land and ensure care of the countryside.

28Refined coconut oil is used to produce monoi; this is the only profitable branch of the copra sector.

Noni

Source: IEOM report 2003. See paper by Jean-Christophe Simon (see CD-ROM).

29■ Noni (called “nono” in French Polynesia) is the fruit of the plant Morinda citrifolia. It is harvested all year round and mainly processed to make juice, although capsules, powders and other preparations are also produced.

30Noni has achieved a stunning success in the past decade. Briefly, this is due to a combination of factors: novelty, a “healthy” reputation, “nature + traditional knowledge” connotations and linkage with the image of Polynesia as a Pacific paradise. All this is sustained by intense promotion and Morinda Inc.’s strong financial and commercial network. Morinda Inc. is based in Utah, USA, and linked to a Mormon consortium.

31Practically non-existent ten years ago, noni exports increased by 30% in volume between 2000 and 2003 and by 250% in monetary terms. This dramatic rise has been driven by American and Japanese market demand. Table 3 gives an idea of this export boom. Eighty per cent of output is exported, mainly in the form of puréed pulp – minimum processing, in other words.

32■ The product chain: there are an estimated 5 to 8,000 active (regular or occasional) fruit harvesters. Production is scattered over several island groups, and cultivated output is taking a growing share compared to fruit gathered from the wild. All in all there are fifty brands marketing noni-based products and 15 exporters. But the market is dominated by Morinda Inc. (over 1,000 staff), which has largely driven the growth of the industry. Morinda largely controls the noni sector, setting prices and harvesting and quality standards, controlling sub-contracting and marketing in more than 50 countries, largely through Internet and sales to the home. The firm is even building a factory to process on-site, due to start up in 2005 (up to now noni was exported as purée and processed in the United States). It is Morinda that owns the designation “Tahitian Noni Juice”. Noni juice only received market authorisation for Europe in June 2003; once distribution starts in Europe it will tell us much about the product’s real commercial potential and hence the economic prospects it offers French Polynesia: longterm prospect or short?

Vanilla

33There are three varieties of vanilla, the Madagascan, Réunion and Tahitian; of the three, Vanilla tahitensis has the most penetrating aromas. Although it is common throughout the tropical belt, it only blossoms really well in French Polynesia. That fact, and rising world prices, have encouraged efforts to add value by improving quality and introducing a label. Since the 1980s and especially since 1994, French Polynesia has multiplied its efforts in both directions. It has asked for CIRAD’s assistance, to develop the system of intensive cultivation under shade nets (which reduces the land area required, making room for more growers), achieve more uniform quality (already less affected by the weather under this system) and prevent the spread of viruses, a risk inherent in this type of system. The Territory’s active policy has also led to the creation of EPIC Vanille, with considerable funding. The aim is to obtain an AOC designation of origin to highlight the original features of Tahitian vanilla on its market (top-end gastronomic products). The vanilla product chain is very well-organised and is encouraged and monitored by the authorities. Demand and prices are increasing and the industry should produce good profits in future, but its dependence on a single market makes it vulnerable and world prices could collapse in the event of overproduction.

Tiare

34Monoi. Made by macerating tiare flowers (Gardenia taitensis) in coconut oil, monoi is a processed product using a resource specific to Polynesia. It underpins a busy product chain selling on the local market and through export, though 95% of exports go to metropolitan France. An industry partnership (GIE, Groupement d’intérêt économique) structures the industry, and in 1992 a “designation of origin” was granted. It is the product that most specifically evokes the “Polynesian paradise” image. The GIE is working to diversify export destinations, stimulate R&D and develop quality management, but will this be enough to increase demand or even prevent new products eating into existing demand?

35Tiare essence. This is a profitable business, well adapted to French Polynesia both because of its high value added and because harvesting of the raw material is a stable part-time activity. A leading firm in the sector is Tahiti Arômes, a subsidiary of CAIRAP, which started a production unit on Moorea in 2003 to produce concrete of tiare. The main question for this product is whether it is well placed to thrive in the highly versatile and very demanding international cosmetics market.

Tamanu

36Tamanu oil is obtained from the nut of Calophyllum inophyllum, sundried for a long period and then pressed. The oil contains numerous resins and, once purified, is a costly product, both because of the cost of extraction and because yields are low and harvesting difficult. Traditionally used as an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent, it is sold (still on a small scale) as a cosmetic product in its own right for skin and hair care. Demand for purified tamanu oil as an ingredient is growing fast and reportedly now outstrips current world production capacity. There is official encouragement, particularly in Vanuatu and New Caledonia, to increase the number of Calophyllum plantations. With cultivation increasing elsewhere in the Pacific and the limited supply of arable land in French Polynesia, one may wonder whether this territory is well placed to compete. On the other hand, Polynesian tamanu is known for its quality (due to the traditional method of extraction as well as raw material quality) and prices are high. On those grounds it is worth considering closely all the parameters for a more sophisticated form of marketing as a specifically French Polynesian product. Among other things this would involve completing research into the properties of C. inophyllum and identifying any patents registered. Illustrating the current strong interest in tamanu, genetic analysis of Polynesian tamanu and an in-depth study of tamanu oil are under way at UPF; and a tamanu trade federation was formed in 2002.

Other plant resources

37Flowers. A first attempt to create a flowers sector to take advantage of French Polynesia’s enormous wealth of ornamental flowers was unsuccessful. The islands’ flowers are nonetheless a potential resource. The species data sheets drawn up by the experts for this review provide some useful information, particularly on ferns.

38Fruit. French Polynesia has no endemic fruit, and distance from markets and the limited supply of arable land handicap large-scale fruit production. Commercial opportunities will have to be based on the specific taste (hence aroma) characteristics of Polynesian varieties of fruit such as pineapple and mango. There have been private sector initiatives of this kind with pineapple, and there is research under way, particularly on mango, with scientific input from CIRAD. But this is agronomic research and as such is beyond the scope of this review.

39Sandalwood. Sandalwood has a high heritage value, but is in danger of extinction in the Marquesas. Sandalwood is not currently used commercially but, in view of its potential value (see Santalum insulare data sheet), CIRAD is conducting research.

Kava, a controversial case

Although there is no kava product chain in French Polynesia, it must be mentioned here because it is the subject of a lively debate and conflicting opinions, including within our panel of experts.
A traditional drink made from kava is drunk at celebrations and ritual ceremonies in most parts of Oceania, particularly Vanuatu, Fiji, Wallis and Fortuna, the Cook islands, Tonga and Samoa and New Caledonia, and also, though less markedly, in French Polynesia, mainly the Marquesas islands. In New Caledonia and urban areas of Vanuatu, a neo-tradition of social kava drinking in specialist bars or nakamals has developed. The drink is prepared from the fresh or dried root of Piper methysticum, of which there are several cultivars. The active principles in kava, called kavalactones, have sedative, analgesic and anxiolytic properties.
In the 1990s there was a spectacular boom in sales of kava in capsule form, marketed as a herbal medicine, mainly in the United States, Germany and Switzerland; the market suddenly collapsed after several cases of fulminating hepatitis in Europe, and in 2002 it was withdrawn from the market in France, Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom, other countries merely recommending prudence.
The collapse of the market was a heavy blow to Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, the main producers. For the time being, the market is saturated. The producing States are trying to break out of the crisis by lobbying the WHO and European Union to convince them of the non-toxicity of kavalactones and to have market authorisation restored. Whatever the outcome of these efforts, it now seems it will be impossible to have kava on open sale as a dietary supplement. Controversy still rages over its possible return in more controlled form (see
Piper methysticum data sheet).

Preliminary findings on the “plant products” sector

40The table below gives a preliminary comparative overview of the main economic activities based on the use of natural substances from land plants. It covers the main products already mentioned, assessing the characteristics of each in terms of economic, social and institutional criteria.

Source: paper by Jean-Christophe Simon (see CD-ROM).

41While making no claim to high precision, the table suggests several points for consideration:

  • The coconut oil industry is a classic example of a heavily subsidised production system. Could encroachment of new industries on available land, or changes in cost factors (public subsidies) occur without affecting its role in social welfare and solidarity between the Territory’s island groups?

  • The success of noni suggests it could offer an alternative solution to heavily subsidised, poorly cost-effective sectors. However, it is a new industry and has yet to prove itself over the medium term; will consumer demand for this “health product” last?

  • It would be risky to simply transpose the “noni plan” to the tamanu case; their production systems and market dynamics are very different.

  • Government financial incentives are available both for unprofitable industries with a social welfare value and to develop or reactivate industries with economic potential, but they seem to be unevenly employed. Is this a heritage of the past, the result of case-by-case allocation or deliberate choice?

  • The forms of organisation are instructive. There is clearly a local capability for organisation, but more consideration could be given to how private enterprise can be supported downstream of agricultural production.

  • The issue of export markets is decisive, as stakeholders in French Polynesia are acutely aware. Local entrepreneurs have a real desire to position themselves with regard to the United States, the Pacific and Europe. Export drives are being strengthened, with government support.

Three critical points

42There are three difficulties that can hamper the dynamism of industries based on natural products from agriculture.

Access to land to develop new crops

43The custom of indivisible land ownership keeps land prices high. Although the vanilla and pineapple sectors show that production can be boosted by more intensive cropping systems, limited access to land could hamper the development of new or young industries based on cultivation of promising Polynesian species.

44Coastal management poses similar problems: lack of available space has put a stop to prospects for developing semi-intensive shrimp farming. On the other hand, experience in management of lagoon resources (local lagoon use plans) suggests that a sharing of spatial resources can be organised.

Agricultural training and extension work

45Recent measures to deconcentrate administration have given officers of the Rural Development Service (SDR) a very wide range of functions, including assistance to product chains downstream, despite a strong need for agricultural training and technical agricultural information dissemination. Some thinking must be done on the human, technical, organisational and financial resources that need to be released for the agricultural sector to increase its capacity to develop or assist new productive activities. In any event, the Territory must have an outreach and extension network to meet growers’ needs and provide supervision for sectors aiming for sustainable development or labelling.

Farm demography

46The ageing of the farming population has an impact on the sector’s vigour. The main agricultural activities in French Polynesia are the traditional ones of subsistence cropping and harvesting from the wild, practiced by elderly people. This applies to many vanilla plantations and most traditional fruit farming (pineapple, mango, etc.). But Polynesian farmers are energetic, as can be seen from their positive response and the development dossiers they drew up when EPIC Vanille was formed, and the way pineapple growers have welcomed projects by Jus de Fruits de Moorea.

Notes

1 Coconut oil: it is obtained from copra (dried coconut flesh). It is solid at ambient temperature. It is widely used in the food industry for making chocolate, ice cream and margarine and as cooking fat, and is also used in the cosmetics industry particularly as an ingredient of soap and above all of monoi. Very high saturated fatty acid content.

2 A CIFRE (Convention industrielle de formation par la recherche) is an industrial agreement for research-based training, organised and managed by the national association for technical research ANRT on behalf of the Ministry for Research. Under a CIFRE agreement, young doctoral students produce their theses in industry while conducting their research in liaison with a research team outside the company concerned. The agreements thus involve three partners: the graduate wishing to work for a doctorate within private enterprise, the firm that employs them and receives a subsidy for that, and the research team supervising the thesis.

3 In partnership with the University of French Polynesia and IFREMER.

4 Tamanu: Tamanu oil is obtained from the nut of Calophyllum inophyllum, sun-dried for a long time, then pressed. It is a hair care product and is used for wound healing, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anti-parasite purposes.

5 NMR: nuclear magnetic resonance. NMR spectroscopy of protons and carbon 13 is used to determine the structure of organic molecules.

6 SDR: Service du dévelopment rural.

7 NICTs: new information and communications technologies.

8 GEPSUN is a partnership of scientific and business stakeholders. Its definitive legal status as a partnership or association has not yet been decided. Its founding members on the research side are UPF, CIRAD and IRD, and on the business side Jus de Fruit de Moorea, the Laboratoire de Cosmétologie du Pacifique Sud and CAIRAP. The founding partners have agreed that coordination should be organised from the University of French Polynesia.
For its first two years in business, GEPSUN is receiving State funding under French Polynesia’s fouryear Plan contract. It aims to promote applied research projects on natural substances in the territory. Research may be conducted by GEPSUN members for outside customers, and GEPSUN resources may be used to support R&D projects.

9 Kopara ponds: “kopara” is the term used by the inhabitants of the Tuamotu archipelago in French Polynesia for the microbial mats that grow in brackish or salt water ponds on the coral rings of atolls. In terms of structure and growth, kopara can be defined as a stromatolite, a type of microbialite. The term “microbialite” covers all sediments that form by a process involving communities of benthic microbes. Some Kopara organo-sedimentary structures are extremely old.

Table des illustrations

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Légende 1 euro = 119 F CFP; 1 F CFP = 0.0084 euro. From the paper by Jean-Christophe Simon (see CD-ROM).Note 12. F CFP: Change Franc Pacifique, the currency used in New Caledonia, French Polynesia and Wallis and Fortuna islands.
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Légende Source: paper by Jean-Christophe SIMON (see CD-ROM).
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Légende Source: paper by Jean-Christophe Simon (see CD-ROM).
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Légende Source: IEOM report 2003. See paper by Jean-Christophe Simon (see CD-ROM).
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Légende Source: paper by Jean-Christophe Simon (see CD-ROM).
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