New Zealand High Commission Suva, Fiji
Rabians exploring into VCO business
Recently a grant of FJ$14,000 was provided by the New Zealand High Commission (NZHC) to sponsor a workshop on the production of Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) for the Banabans Women’s Organisation on Rabi Island.
The week long workshop was attended by more than 100 participants, including both men and women, from the four villages on the island.
Project coordinator Terikano Takesau said it was a first ever VCO extraction workshop on the island and that it triggered a lot of enthusiasm amongst the people.
“We are grateful to the NZHC for facilitating such projects for the communities in remote areas and giving an opportunity to engage in income generating projects for our people,” said Ms Takesau.
“The aim of the workshop is to create awareness of basic facts relating to the value, use and importance of coconut oil, and also to train the people on VCO extraction so that they can take advantage of the growing demand for this oil,” said Ms Takeasu.
Ms Takesau is a successful candidate of the Vodafone World of Difference Program and as part of her programme she was tasked with coordinating activities to improve sustainability issues for women on Rabi, as well as empowering women to improve their lives.
VCO has been dubbed the “healthiest oil on earth”. It has a mild to intense fresh coconut aroma, contains natural Vitamin E, and has not undergone atmospheric and hydrolytic oxidation as shown by its low peroxide value and low free fatty acid content.
Coconut oil has also been identified as a component for biofuel and provides an essential base for other products such as body lotion, body oil, soap, and medicinal purposes.
The resurgence in interest in the coconut industry globally has impacted on Fiji, hence the interest in such workshops.
Ms Takesau said the participants had gained a lot from the workshop in terms of potential economic, health and social benefits, and in relation to the sustainability of traditional knowledge and a healthy environment.
She added that participants were taught how to capitalize and add value to the abundant coconut resources on the island.
“The training activities consisted of lectures and practical demonstrations to ensure that participants were able to follow the instructions and understand the processes, “said Ms Takesau.
Emphasis was also placed on packaging, labelling and presentation of the end product.
The Banabans Women’s Organisation have been marketing their produce, and were pleased that the first batch of VCO, lotions and soaps sold out. A 500ml bottle of VCO is sold at $10.00 each while a 250ml bottle costs $5.00.
A 250ml bottle lotion sells for $9.50.
Following the success of the project, the production of VCO is now an on-going activity, providing a new source of income for the community.