The National, Tuesday October 29th, 2013
By ELIZABETH VUVU
RABAUL has embarked on a virgin coconut oil (VCO) project to help people generate income in a more innovative way.
Recently, the joint district planning and budget priorities committee of East New Britain endorsed K100,000 as startup capital from its district services improvement programme for the venture.
The committee endorsed the project, which would be operated by a local manager through the public private partnership concept.
Rabaul MP Dr Allan Marat said despite the low copra prices, small farmers continued to make copra to sustain their livelihoods.
“It is high time we thought of better and innovative ways of assisting farmers to spend less time in copra-making and put the saved hours into doing other better things.
“This is better than to continue on with the traditional ways of making copra for sustenance,” he said.
Marat said it took 4,500 to 6,000 nuts to produce one tonne of copra at current low price of K400 to K500 per tonne.
However, during high prices it could fetch up to K2,000 per tonne.
“With this project, 5,000 nuts at 30 toea each would provide a farmer K1,500 in income than going through the process of drying and selling for a mere K450 per tonne,” Marat said.
He said farmers would be required to sell their husked or whole coconuts at the buying point instead of the copra meat, which has been the practice for decades.
“The start-up capital would help to purchase the machinery while the PPP concept would use its funds for construction of the building and other requirements as equity,” Marat said.
He said the project was in line with the district’s vision to grow the local economy while its five-year plans would encourage and empower SMEs.