In 1992 a village soap maker in Mozambique appealed to a visiting consultancy
team to come up with a method of producing oil directly from his community’s
coconuts. None of the team forgot the plea since, if such a technology
existed or could be developed, it could radically transform the lives
of poverty-stricken coconut farmers around the world.
Later that year Dr Dan Etherington, an Agricultural Economist at the
Australian National University in Canberra and the team leader, learnt
that the people of a remote Tuvalu island in the centre of the south
Pacific had long ago discovered how to cold press coconut oil from sun-dried
coconut. However the copra trade and cheap imported vegetable oils had ‘killed’ this
Recognising its economic potential, Dan worked in collaboration with
the CSIRO and colleagues to develop the fine-weather household technique
into an all-weather cottage-industry technology. We call it Direct
Micro Expelling™ (DME™). The quality of the oil is stunning. With
the encouragement and backing of some Christian friends, Dan set up Kokonut
Pacific Pty Ltd to further refine the technology and take it back to
the islands. Dr Dan’s coconut odyssey actually began much earlier.
The journey has been difficult at times but "breaking
also be exciting and rewarding.
The DME process produces pure virgin oil at the farm household level
within one hour of opening the coconuts.
In 1997 the company began to sell DME equipment, training and consultancy
services. There are now many DME units in South Pacific and Caribbean
countries and there is increasing interest from Asia. The DME technology
is helping protect fragile tropical environments by enhancing the incomes
and living standards of people from their most sustainable local resource.
Villagers are now producing this remarkably pure natural oil (FFA < 0.2%)
in commercial quantities. Its
structure and purity ensures a
long shelf life.
See Dan's Blog for more detail
The Company’s goal is encapsulated in the motto: “Empowering
and bringing hope”.
Pacific works to improve the well-being of the rural population of tropical
countries through the production of premium grade coconut oil and other
This objective is to be achieved by revitalising the smallholder coconut
industry through the use of modern technology and by working in partnership
with local communities.
In most situations, people want to work and they
have plenty of nuts.
Now they have a way of turning those nuts into very pure, natural, virgin
oil within one hour of opening a coconut. Kokonut Pacific is working
hard with local firms, non-government organisations (NGOs) and Governments
to make sure that the right support systems are in place. The capacity
of remote communities to produce DME extra virgin coconut oil is often
far greater than the local market can absorb. For the dream of regular
employment to be realised, other markets have to be found. Because most
of the oil has to be exported, this requires organisation for quality
control, storage, transport, bulking up and finding buyers. In many cases,
these buyers are in other countries so the oil has to be carefully packed
and shipped overseas.
We are working with our country partners and international accrediting
agencies to gain full Organic Certification status for the oil. This
was first achieved in Samoa. Now this status has also been granted to
the operations in the Solomon Islands. OC status is a great encouragement
to the producers and assures customers of the quality of the oil. In
addition, from the start, we have adopted Full
and Fair Trade, Fair Share,
and “triple bottom line” principles (demonstrating care for
people, the planet and profitability).
Will the DME System and this pure form of coconut oil help reclaim
the Tree of Life? Read on!