Residents of Matanagoa Village in Makira-Ulawa Province have a ready source of income since World Vision installed a coconut crushing mill in their community.
The mill is used to process dry coconut into virgin oil. Oil produced is stored in 60 litre rubber containers and shipped to Honiara for sale to Kokonut Pacific Solomon Islands.
The mill was installed by World Vision in the village under its Community Economic Development (CED) project.
The project, which is supported by the Australian government, started in 2011 and ended in 2014 but it has been extended to this year (2017).
The Matanagoa Savings Group, also setup by World Vision under the savings component of the CED project, manages the daily operation of the mill.
Recently, the Member of Parliament for Central Makira constituency handed over a new three-tonne vehicle to Matanagoa community to support their mill’s operation.
Ruth, chairperson of the Matanagoa savings group, said members of their community are reaping the benefits of the mill.
She said the community has not only been provided with a vehicle because of the mill but also everyone in the community can get involved in earning an income.
“Children, men and women in the community enjoy collecting and bringing dry coconut to the mill and we buy them (coconuts).
“Some children return from school and go to their coconut plantations to bring dry coconut and we buy a fruit for SBD$0.50. Sometimes we pay SBD$1.00 for the fruit,” said Ruth.
She said many youth and elders in the community find work to do inside and outside the mill and are paid.
“Supervisors are paid hourly rates while those working inside the mill are paid according to the amount of oil produced,” said Ruth.
Community chief, Eric, said their community is lucky to have the mill.
“We are very lucky to have this mill. It has enabled our people to engage in work and earn money rather than spending days doing nothing,” said Eric.
He said community members who joined their community savings group get income through the mill which helps them to do their savings during their club’s savings meeting.
Ruth said working in the mill helped her to buy what her children needed and has helped her to do her savings.
The mill can produce 16 litres of virgin oil per day. Hand-pressed oil is triple filtered to ensure only pure oil makes it into the containers.
The community is preparing to ship ten more containers (600 litres) of oil to Honiara for sale. Kokonut Pacific Solomon Islands pays SBD$1,400 for each 60-litre container.
Transporting containers of coconut oil from Matanagoa Village to Kirakira station for shipment has been the most expensive part of the mill’s operation.
With a truck now available it reduces transport cost which means the mill spare money to buy coconuts brought by villagers and buy those who work in the mill.
Coconut oil sold in Honiara is exported and further processed to produce skin care products including lotion and body scrub and hair care products such as shampoo.
Coconut oil is also added to food and used to treat yeast infections and to aid digestion.