He also looks like a gym junkie but the fitness all comes from living in harmony with the rainforest and reef. He can make a traditional stone
blade or wield a machete with the expertise of a sushi chef to build a solid house from bush poles and palm thatch to shelter his family from the monsoonal rains. He has grown up clearing land and planting
taro, sweet potato and banana gardens and regularly paddles his dug-out canoe against currents, wind and waves to reach the fishing grounds where he works a line or dives to great depths to spear the fish
he needs to feed his family. He is an expert at harvesting and husking hundreds of organic wild harvest coconuts to earn money for the things he cannot make, grow or hunt himself.
Two years ago Peter heard about Direct Micro Expelling and the opportunity to bring employment to his community by adding substantial value to the existing coconut resource through production of organic
virgin coconut oil. He seized the opportunity and has not looked back. The benefits to the local community are plain to see. Peter tapped a crystal clear spring in the hills and gravity fed it through a
kilometre of pipe to provide the DME facility (and everyone else) with flowing water.
He has organised production in a culturally sensitive manner. Eighteen workers operate in two “permanent part-time” teams. This makes efficient use of the equipment but shares employment thus providing
valuable cash incomes while freeing people to have every alternate day off - enabling them to continue their traditional responsibilities farming and fishing. The result is a happy and harmonious work
place for the young women and men who are earning more than they would in town. Seventeen farmers have received organic training and now supply NASAA certified organic coconuts at above market prices to
make the very best quality organic virgin coconut oil for Niulife.
All of this means the community is now receiving four times the income they got from making copra. The money is being spent by families on the basics of school fees, transport, food and medicine.
Small solar panels powering batteries for LED lighting have replaced dangerous and polluting kerosene lamps. The meal remaining after cold pressing the virgin coconut oil is highly nutritious eaten fresh
or used in baking. The balance is fed to livestock providing both income and valuable animal protein. Little wonder then that Peter is saving up to establish a second DME unit with his son in the neighbouring
community. It just shows how the “tree to table” value chain for Niulife virgin coconut oil brings new life to both coconut producers and coconut consumers. And why I am proud of my father, Dr Dan, whose
vision for the Tree of Life has become a reality.
Along with the natural expansion of KPSI,
other donor organisations such as CSP are helping to expand the DME concept. Regular producers meeting are now held and a number of
extension worker travel regularly to visit the producers and discuss their needs.
Producers grow their own nuts or buy them in from neighbouring farmers
and this helps to spread the prosperity to others. Extension workers
provide vital communication between the remote farmer and
the knowledge base at HQ, help to organise meetings of
interested parties, help with setting up of a framework
that the producers can continue to use, take orders for
spare parts and note the general morale and concerns of
the producers. Helping farmers understand their
financial position is vital where money is relatively
new concept but is a vital requirement for school fees,
transport and power. The extension worker becomes a
regular visitor and a part of the local community.
Dan’s Solomons safari 2009
As we set off from the west coast of Choiseul at 6am on
that Sunday morning, having visiting DME sites
impacted by the April 2007 tsunami, our helmsman
told us “The boat ride to Gizo will take one and a
half hours in good weather. If the weather is not so
good it will usually take an hour longer.” He failed
to say how long it would take if we actually had bad
Extension Training visit Feb-March 2009
In early 2007 Chris Maina embarked on an installation and
extension worker training tour spending four weeks travelling the island
of Malaita from end to end. New units were launched and existing ones upgraded and much training and
assistance was given to all. New software was
introduced for processing the extension worker visits at HQ. New
trial equipment for testing was also placed in service with
various producers for in field testing.
Expanding the local market is of vital importance to avoid the
unreliable fluctuations of the export market.
As producers gain and understanding they produce more oil of export quality and this is a also a better product for the local
market. Wider use is being made of the by product and here we se pigs being raised on the meal.
A new unit was completed at Hauhui final training given Suraio. Tawaiseu in the south has a vital village and exuberant team.
The need for regular extension worker visits was again
reinforced and there are now a three trained extension workers and
a construction crew that
regularly visit the far reaches of the Solmons encouraging
The trip was well worth while and the usual
travelling across the open Pacific Ocean in open boats, sleeping on
village floors with mosquitoes and using the open air amenities kept Chris
The Solomons Strike Gold!
31st August 2006. A Solomon Islands company has won first prize, it was announced at the Asia Pacific Forum for Environment and Development (APFED) which met in Adelaide
The winner of the Ryutaro Hashimoto APFED Gold Award was
Kokonut Pacific Solomon Islands Ltd for its project “Rehabilitating a rural economy with virgin coconut oil production”.
Mr Colin Dyer, CEO of Kokonut Pacific Solomon Islands (KPSI) Ltd (pictured front right) explained that KPSI was a joint venture with a Canberra-based company, Kokonut Pacific (Aust) Pty Ltd.
Although only two years old, KPSI has installed 13 village-level virgin coconut oil (VCO) units in four Provinces. Because coconuts are produced throughout the year, the project has created permanent rural jobs for 400 men and women supporting about 3,200 people.
KPSI is helping ‘kick-start’ an ailing economy and has already exported 120 tons of Organically Certified VCO
to markets in Australia, Europe and the USA. Sold as an up-market virgin edible
oil in the health.
Sold as an up-market virgin edible oil in the health food.
Coconut oil producers form an association
THE country’s first certified organic virgin coconut oil producers’
conference was held in Honiara at
the end of August. The conference, attended by 35 producers from five islands in the country, discussed topics on
quality control, money management, virgin coconut oil products, -fuel and staff management of this new and growing industry.
Guest speakers at the conference were from the department of agriculture and livestock, department of planning and aid coordination and
Kokonut Pacific Australia, which managed the international marketing of the oil. Following the conference the participants formed a Certified Organic Virgin Coconut Oil Producers Association (COVCOPA).
Kokonut Pacific Solomon Islands chief executive officer Colin Dyer said the formation of the association is a great “maturing of the industry”.
“The formation of the Certified Organic Virgin Coconut Oil Producers Association shows the confidence that these rural producers have in their future,” Mr Dyer said.
Mr Dyer said producers need to stay together and focused on the markets already achieved while developing further opportunities in the domestic markets.
“These village entrepreneurs are learning rapidly of the challenges of rural development and are taking positive steps to keep moving forward,” he said.
The association is now under the care of an interim committee, who will seek formal registration and develop a draft constitution as soon as possible.
The conference was funded by EU Micro Project.
Participants hoped that the conference would become an annual event as they have gained so much insight and understanding from the guest speakers including Dr Dan from Kokonut Pacific Australia, as well as from each other.
read all the Producer stories here
also see the biofuel page
This article is adapted form an article printed in the Solomon Star 5 September, 2006
Visit to the Solomon IslandsAugust 2006
Kokonut Pacific founder and Managing Director Dr Dan Etherington, Production Manager Ian Gray and Financial Director Greg Wright spent a couple of weeks enjoying the heat and humidity of the tropics and dodging mosquitoes! They
helped to revamp the facilities at the Honiara Headquarters in order to cater
for increased oil sales, and they spent time in the villages inspecting
equipment and hearing stories of
their joys and struggles. The commercial
production of coconut oil is having a very positive impact on these communities. They still face many struggles, with limited communication, poor transport, inadequate schools and the lack of medical services. But it was inspiring to see the efforts of the last two years bearing fruit. As
demand for the oil increases, more producers can come on stream, (there is a waiting list) thus assisting more of these island communities. Your support in purchasing our niulife extra virgin coconut oil is vital for the continued success of these farmers.
Photo: Dr Dan Etherington, Jimmy Kutu and Ian Gray in Maoa.
The Solomon Islands "empowered"
Once crippled economically
and trying in vain to make copra pay, these people now enjoy
the benefits of having a regular cash flow in the villages.
This has come with the production of DME virgin coconut oil
which has none of the backbreaking work associated with
copra. The empowering of the people of the Solomon Islands is
taking place, as is shown by this picture of a fully loaded shipping
container of DME oil.
In June 2005, with the assistance of KPSI (Kokonut Pacific
Solomon Islands), two of the Solomon Islanders were able to come to
Australia to meet the team here and to discuss the triumphs and
problems that they were experiencing in this new venture. Their
visit included a trip to the Kokonut Pacific warehouse to see their
oil being moved on to the next stage. All in all it was a very
productive time and many useful improvements will result from the
exchange of ideas. After two days of meetings, the visitors were
able to see the sights of the national capital. However, their most
lasting impression will probably be the freezing cold of Canberra's
winter, coming as they did from the very hot and humid tropics.
May 2004 Solomon Islands
In May 2004 Chris installed the first units in the Solomon islands
for the fledgling company Kokonut Pacific Solomon Islands, KPSI.
This was at the time attached to the sawmill property in Honiara
as the owners of the sawmill were keen to be associated with
this kind of self sufficient technology and they were very
familiar with the goodness of the coconut. Following the
successful training and inauguration of the Honiara unit Chris
travelled to Malaita and installed the first unit there at
Asimana. These installations have now become foundation history
Great news to share
We are excited by the impact that DME Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
is having on the producers, and by the appreciation of so many
In the Solomon Islands a whole infrastructure
has been put in place with a training unit in Honiara and clusters
of units in two Provinces.
The people describe the impact as a "miracle". We are pleased
that this DME Extra Virgin Coconut Oil has been granted full Organic
Certification by NASAA and
NOP which is
also certified by NASAA.
The Solomons has been a great step of faith for us. It has been
critical to our journey (see Breaking
chains and Dan's coconut odyssey).
2004 Kokonut Pacific, a number of farmers and a local firm agreed
to implement the DME
By June 'sheds' were built, the equipment had arrived and our
Appropriate Technology engineer was ready to train operators or,
to train Trainers who would supervise future building and extension
services. In addition to an operational DME site in the capital,
Honiara, we found an ideal HQ in a warehouse within a stone's
throw of the harbour.
Right from the beginning, we organised the DME System so as to
achieve excellent quality control and to gain Organic Certification
as quickly as possible. This was critical to marketing the virgin
coconut oil in the international market. The team worked hard to
conform to the stringent requirements of
NASAA. In one sense
this was easy because all the coconut farmers live in perfectly
natural environments and have never seen — or heard of — chemical
sprays or fertilizers. It was very much a "wild harvest" situation.
The NASAA inspector was very impressed. The first shipment of fully
Certified Organic DME Extra Virgin Coconut Oil left in Mid-August.
All eleven units were in operation by October and there are now
regular monthly shipments of this beautiful oil.
The impact on the local communities has been stunning. At least
300 people now have regular employment where before they had