The DME solution
Direct Micro Expelling uses a totally different approach to coconut compared to that of the copra industry. With DME we take (small-scale) processing to the nuts rather than taking the nuts (in debased form) to a (large-scale) processing plant. A consequence is that we produce a virgin coconut oil of vastly superior quality.
“Direct Micro Expelling” is highly descriptive of the technology. It is:
- Direct — quick (oil produced within 1 hour of opening the nut) and efficient (OEE 85%)
- Micro — small scale (family farm size)
- Expelling — extraction of virgin oil and meal
The DME Process concentrates on small, manageable, daily batches instead of producing large batches of copra which take many weeks to ship and process. See a pictorial overview here (368Kb pdf)
The DME process depends upon simple, easily learned skills, rather than sophisticated equipment. Families really enjoy working together on DME Oil production, whereas they typically describe the making of copra as a form of slavery.
DME gives regular meaningful employment to teams of 3 to 5 women and/or men of all ages. A team can work on the process more-or-less whenever it suits them — whether it be 2 hours a day on 2 days per week or 10 hours a day for 6 days a week — it could even (shudder the thought) be operated on a shift basis all day and all night. Production can take place all year round and in virtually any weather.
It gives direct local employment in rural areas in nut collection and oil production, and it has multiplier income- and employment-effects. Where the oil is packaged locally or used as an input by local cosmetic, soap and detergent producers there is significant value added. Also, the residue goes for baking and livestock.
In general, the gross return from the DME process is about 3 times, and the net return is about 4 times that of copra.
Average daily production is typically 20 to 50 litres (depending on the number of hours worked by a team), with skilled operators obtaining an oil extraction efficiency (OEE) of over 85% (of available oil). The number of nuts needed to produce one litre of oil depends on the size of the nuts. The range is between 9 and 15 nuts/litre.
The DME process is fully sustainable and as such does not use any fuel other than the coconuts used to produce the oil, it does not intrude on the timber resource or other non renewable fuels.
Besides its uses as a cooking oil, or for skin moisturising and massage, virgin coconut oil is a good lamp fuel and, of all the vegetable oils, it is the best direct substitute for diesel-engine fuel.
After DME coconut oil is extracted, the residual meal is de-fatted grated coconut is excellent for baking biscuits and cakes and as stock feed.
The DME equipment can also produce excellent coconut cream for local domestic use.
The DME technology is indeed “Empowering”.