THE FULL STORY
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 indigenous technology.
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 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 chains can 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, Asian, African and Caribbean countries.
The DME® technology is helping protect fragile tropical reefs and rain forests 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 chemical structure and purity ensures a long shelf life.
From small beginnings to great outcomes, read more about how our story has unfolded and how our journey continues today.
Dan’s coconut Odyssey
Sri Lanka has been called the land of "serendipity". This means a surprising, delightful, unexpected discovery. So it was with me in 1976 when I first visited that island nation...Read More
Breaking the chains
In September 1994, I was sitting with a local man on a pile of copra bags on Malu’u beach, North Malaita, in the Solomon Islands. We were waiting to load the motorboats plying their way to and from the coastal trading ship anchored 500 meters offshore. Working with 60 kg bags of copra was hard, dirty and smelly work.Read More