Kokonut Pacific, Solomon Islands
When our Fair Trade partner Kokonut Pacific in the Solomon Islands registered as a company in 1994, their focus was on producing and selling the simple manual coconut oil press it had designed and built. This enabled small coconut farmers and villagers in the remote islands to escape the virtual slavery of the copra trade to become independent coconut oil producers. The press has become a key component of their highly productive Direct Micro Expelling (DME) VCO process. Given the remote and spread-out nature of the Solomon Islands, key components of establishing and maintaining a thriving business requires strong relationships with farmers, training in agricultural efficiency and sustainability as well as business principles, communications, and logistic support. To help facilitate this complex task, Kokonut Pacific used its Fair Trade social premium profits to fund a Coconut Technology Centre (CTC) in Honiara, the capital of the Solomon Islands. While this education center strengthens busniess and agriculture in the islands, it also empowers farmers to strive for food security through sustainability practices.
Kokonut Pacific’s Community Development project for 2017 has been titled Farm to Market: Training for Rural Youth Economic Empowerment and the DME Model. Fair Trade funding provided educate 100 at risk youth in the DME process at the CTC education center. Practical skills are taught spanning from business practices to local animal husbandry. Kokonut Pacific’s research and development at their education center has refined these community’s agricultural practices to utilize each and every by-product of the DME coconut oil process for economic and community benefit. Innovations include charcoal production from coconut shells and coconut palm wood, as well as integration of byproducts of the DME process to community use. Charcoal burning stoves are now widely used, which reduce smoke and save forest timber firewood and expensive fossil gases. Integrated use of coconut oil in cooking local foods to provide meals to DME workers is another way their practices are turning to efficient sustainability. The coconut byproducts once thrown away can be used for livestock feed. Animal husbandry initiatives plus this new food source has improved village food security.