News: Coconut Press presses ahead in the Pacific, March 2012

Grating the coconuts

Grating the coconuts

Local and international markets for virgin coconut oil have expanded rapidly over the past decade but producers need to improve their performance to remain competitive, build on past successes and better appreciate the importance of hygiene and the basics of financial management.

A week long training exercise, supported by the Crawford Fund’s ACT Committee, follows earlier support for the work by Dr Dan Etherington, formerly of ANU, who worked in collaboration with CSIRO and ANU colleagues to develop an all-weather cottage industry technology that has been introduced to a range of developing countries and sees them producing coconut oil of ‘stunning’ quality.

Drying the coconut

Drying the coconut

This most recent training focused on the principles of hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) and basic financial management for village virgin coconut oil production. 21 of the 31 participants, from five provinces, were from the Virgin Coconut Oil Producers Association who use the ‘dry’ Direct Micro Expelling technology that was developed by Dan and highlighted on the ABC TV New Inventors, and supply their Certified Organic virgin coconut oil to Kokonut Pacific Solomon Islands Ltd (KPSI).

Pressing out the virgin coconut oil

Pressing out the virgin coconut oil

The workshop facilitators included KPSI and South Pacific Community staff and three staff from Kokonut Pacific (Australia). “As a robust, village-based technology, the process provides high quality oil at low cost and has proven ideally suitable as an economic business enterprise for remote communities,” reported Dr Dan Etherington of Kokonut Pacific, in his report on the training. His report notes that over the seven years since KPSI commenced operations, virgin coconut oil exports have earned more than SBD5 million (about USD $800,000) and today KPSI is the largest exporter of Certified Organic virgin coconut oil in the South Pacific. “The coconut palm produces a new bunch of coconuts every month, all year round,” Dr Etherington said. “It’s hard to imagine a more sustainable crop.”