|Coconut Press: VCO trade and exports increase in the region|
|Wednesday, 18 April 2012 15:35|
Virgin coconut oil (VCO) processing manual for the Pacific
Late last year, the European Union-funded Facilitating Agricultural Commodity Trade (FACT) Project published a manual for the processing of virgin coconut oil in the Pacific, which has now been widely distributed in the region. Developed by FACT consultant Ms Divina Bawalan, the manual is a valuable reference to assist women’s groups, communities, individuals and the private sector to further improve their processing, trade and export of virgin coconut oil products.
VCO trade and exports increase in the region
Virgin coconut oil trade and exports are increasing in the region. VCO is a product that can easily be processed further into value-added products — e.g. soaps and lotions — and traded by grassroots communities. The FACT Project is currently supporting three VCO enterprises in the region that are not only trading in Fiji and Papua New Guinea but also exporting to Australia, New Zealand, Slovenia and the USA, with plans to extend to China.
Training of processors in Solomon Islands
As part of the generic assistance provided to the coconut sector, the FACT Project recently collaborated with the new European Union-funded Increasing Agricultural Commodity Trade (IACT) Project and Kokonut Pacific Ltd (KPSI) to train organic VCO processors in Solomon Islands in March. The training focused on food safety (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, or HACCP) and involved more than 26 processors who have been producing and exporting VCO (mainly through KPSI) to Australia for a number of years now. This was the first HAACP training conducted for the VCO industry in Solomon Islands and it was well received. The training is a first step in ensuring that the exported VCO continues to maintain the quality and food safety standards that are demanded by the market.
Also in Solomon Islands, the FACT Project recently trained a group of 20 young men and women on how to process VCO through the fermentation method. Carried out in collaboration with SPC’s Community Education and Training Centre (CETC) and the Solomon Islands Ministry of Women, Youth and Culture, this activity was aimed at building the capacity of youth to generate income.
Coconut inventory carried out in Fiji
The FACT and IACT projects combined to undertake a mission aimed at inventorying the coconut palms planted since 1989 in Cakaudrove province on Vanua Levu in Fiji. This is an important step towards developing the young coconut juice industry in the Pacific region. Young coconut juice is becoming a popular isotonic drink for sportspeople as well as a popular natural drink in the US, Australian and European markets. The data collated are required for determining the raw material production level and are also needed by prospective investors for carrying out their business feasibility studies and plans. A Fijian enterprise, Nuju, is already seriously looking at exporting the commodity, making it a pioneer in the region.
Australian certification in Marshall Islands
The FACT Project’s Export Processing and Marketing Officer (value-added coconut products) Mr Tevita Kete has been assisting the Marshall Islands Tobolar Copra Mill get total quality management (TQM) certification. This is now a requirement of the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS). Tobolar previously exported copra cake or meal to Australia as horsefeed and now requires TQM certification to continue exporting. The work is coordinated by the Biosecurity and Trade Team within the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC). Funding for this activity is being provided by the Australian Government Overseas Aid Program (AusAID).
Coconut sugar production in Kiribati
The FACT and IACT projects have also provided support to the Kiribati Organic Farmers Association (KOFA) for the analysis of their coconut sugar. The assistance also included the labeling and packaging of their samples, which were showcased at a recent trade show and meeting (Foodex 2012) in Japan. The collaboration between the FACT project and KOFA has resulted in three atolls in Kiribati now sustainably producing coconut sugar, with the final packing for market done on the main atoll Tarawa.