It was simple and required very little training in its use Copra production had

It was simple and required very little training in

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It was simple and required very little training in its use. Copra production had always been seen as a man’s job, and DME technology was seen as pro- viding a pathway to involve women and youth in the viable production of coconut oil. The DME technology seemed ideal in that the final product – the coconut oil – would be produced in the rural areas and the technology could encourage rural people to remain in the villages where they lived because it provided them with much-needed work. It would be as if the process of vil- lage oil production in Samoa could come full circle, to again be produced by women in the village setting and exported to earn them an income. In 1995 WIBDI contacted Dr Etherington in Australia and sought his per- mission to use the technology for a rural village project. The WIBDI Executive Director, Adimaimalaga Tafuna’i, then travelled to Fiji and Box 1: The Direct Micro Expelling Process The DME system involves four basic steps: collecting and husking the coconuts; finely grating the fresh mature coconut kernel with small motorized (usually electric) graters. It is important to note that diesel powered generators to run these graters can be fuelled by the virgin oil produced by the DME process; drying the grated coconut to a specific moisture content in about one hour on an innovative, all-weather, solar-thermal dryer fuelled by the discarded coconut husks and shells; pressing out the oil with a specially designed robust hand-operated press, known as a SAM press, that uses interchangeable cylinders. 52 CHAINS OF FORTUNE: LINKING WOMEN PRODUCERS AND WORKERS WITH GLOBAL MARKETS Chains final 29/7/04 2:31 pm Page 52
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Figure 1: Direct Micro Expelling of Coconut Oil 53 VIRGIN COCONUT OIL IN SAMOA Chains final 29/7/04 2:31 pm Page 53
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participated in a United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) training programme on the use of the technology which had already been introduced into a few villages in Fiji where the projects were being man- aged by village communities. The Fijian projects were not seen to be successful, because of reluctance by village leaders to take responsibility for the activities at community level – especially the financial aspect of the operations. Finding an appropriate organizational structure From this experience, the WIBDI Executive Director envisioned an opportu- nity for Samoan family groups to benefit from the DME technology, given that many rural families have access to the coconut plantations of tradition- ally owned lands, with acres of coconut trees not fully utilized. A sub-sector analysis of the coconut industry in Samoa was then con- ducted to see if producing virgin coconut oil would be viable. The results of the study were made even more encouraging by the fact that copra prices at the time were very much in decline. The analysis indicated that a ton of copra from approximately 5,000 nuts, would bring in about ST$1135 (US$454). If the 5,000 nuts were instead processed with the DME technology into coconut oil, the returns would be approximately ST$4400 (US$1,760), using the price of the locally produced coconut oil as the price base.
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