Coconut Technology Centre established September 2014
The inaugural meeting of a new Coconut Technology Centre (CTC) Foundation (Solomon Islands) trustees was held in Honiara, Wednesday 10th September 2014 . The CTC is registered as a charitable trust. “This development is a dream come true and an answer to prayer over many years” says Dr Dan Etherington, founder of Kokonut Pacific Australia and inventor of the Direct Micro Expelling technology which is transforming the coconut industry in Solomon Islands.
The CTC has been established to encourage skill and industry in the coconut sector, which in turn will assist economic development. More specifically it will support the development of the coconut industry including undertaking research and development, demonstrate best practice in the technologies relevant to the coconut industry, providing a venue for training along with extension services. “We hope that this centre will really benefit coconut farmers and people involved in value adding to coconut products” says David Rosalio, current President of the Virgin Coconut Oil Producers Association and former Premier of Guadalcanal Province.
The seven inaugural trustees of the CTC include people nominated by Kokonut Pacific Solomon Islands; Kokonut Pacific Australia, and the Virgin Coconut Oil Producers Association. They are Eric Notere, Edgar Pollard, David Rosalio, John Daufanimae, Dr Mike Foale, Richard Etherington and Moses Pelomo.
The Coconut Technology Centre is based at the Kokonut Pacific Solomon Islands head quarters in Lunga which was built in 2014-15. “Alongside the Producers Association and Kokonut Pacific this CTC Foundation is an important part of the jigsaw in helping us to achieve the potential of the coconut industry” said Eric Notere, Financial Controller of Kokonut Pacific Solomon Islands.
Dr Mike Foale who conducted coconut research in the Russell Islands from 1959 to 1968 said “This is a welcome opportunity to re-visit my passion for coconut products started from the collaboration of Levers and Solomon Islands Government in the 1960s, I’m looking forward to contributing further to the country which I and my family love dearly”.
Left to Right
Dan Etherington, David Rosalio, Richard Etherington, Mike Foale, Edgar Pollard, Eric Notere, John Daufanimae, (Absent: Moses Pelomo)
March 2012 - Coconut Oil vision becomes a reality in the Solomon Islands (March 2012)
Coconut Oil vision becomes a reality in the Solomon Islands (March 2012)
On the glassy surface of the Coral Sea last week, Dr Dan Etherington confessed to me (over the outboard motor’s roar) that not all his Solomon Island canoe trips had been this smooth. A one hour trip on a flat sea can turn into an agonising day-long bashing when the sea begins to “smile”, as the locals euphemistically put it. This sort of adventure has been par for the course over the last two decades Dr Dan, as he is known in the islands, has pioneered virgin coconut oil in the tropics.
A visit to the wild and unspoiled Solomon Islands proves that the vision behind Dr Dan’s Kokonut Pacific enterprise, to Empower and Bring Hope, has now become reality for many communities.
Peter Kabela is a natural leader - an elder among his people he speaks several of the 80 indigenous languages of these diverse islands (and very good English for those who are linguistically challenged!). Gentle, observant and wise, he has a quick wit and wry smile.
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 farming and fishing responsibilities. The result is a happy and harmonious workplace for the young women and men who are earning more than they would in town. In 2012 about 17 farmers had received organic training and were supplying 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. It is a dream come true for Dr Dan, whose vision for the Tree of Life has become a reality.