Department of Industry Supports Coconut Farmers with DME Machines.

Adorina Massing.

The Department of Industry (DoI) has made plans to install Direct Micro Expellers (DME) – a machine that extracts virgin oil from coconuts- in all six provinces to support the coconut industry in Vanuatu.

Officer Clenes Lingtamat said the team has installed the DME machine last month on May 15th at Mapest Cooperative in Central Malekula.

Funded by the EDF11, the purpose of this Vt10 million project is to diversify the valuable health benefits of coconuts and to provide opportunities for farmers, especially in rural communities, to utilise their coconut recourses and in turn, produce higher-end products that is more competent compared to copra.

Trainings were conducted with the help of Food Specialist, Dr Richard Bear who has led the team on the DME Project outline and has assisted in the installment of a machine at Mapest Cooperative.

A total of six machines were shipped in from Kokonut Pacific, a company located in Australia that manufactures the DME technology, with aims to build sustainable value chains and to renew the smallholder coconut industry with appropriate technology.

Officer Lingtamat assured the project will greatly benefit coconut farmers, especially when copra price in the country keeps fluctuating.

“The establishment of a DME machine on Malekula will open doors to cash flows and create profit-making opportunities unlike no other,” he added.

“Once this initiative is proven a success, we can expand our project to other associations and private businesses who are interested.”

Mr Lingtamat said once virgin oil is extracted from coconuts, it can be further diversified into other products such as soaps, cosmetics and refined oil to increase their profitability in the market.

“It takes four workers to operate the DME machine,” He added

“One copra bag containing 400 nuts can provide an estimated amount of 20 litres of extracted virgin oil, within less than an hour.”

Lingtamat confirmed the next DME instalment will be made in Santo.

The launching of DME machine installment at Mapest Cooperative on May 15th was officiated by the Director of Cooperatives, Ridley Joseph and the Director of Industry, Jimmy Rantes.