(Secretariat of the Pacific Community) A new coconut processing manual published by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) will help community-based producers in the Pacific to improve the quality of their value-added coconut products to meet international market requirements.
The Processing Manual for Virgin Coconut Oil, its Products and By-products for Pacific Island Countries and Territories by Ms Divina D. Bawalan was launched recently in Fiji.
Virgin coconut oil from the Pacific is being exported to Europe, Australia, New Zealand and United States markets.
Vinay Chand, a leading United Kingdom-based consultant on coconut processing and marketing said at the launch ‘One of the concerns with producing VCO on a home, micro and village scale operation (especially for home consumption and domestic markets) is achieving a product with consistently good quality that will meet international standards and will always be fit for human consumption.’
‘It is envisioned that the manual will lead to a better understanding of coconut oil and its quality parameters so that VCO processors can easily respond to the queries of their buyers,’ he added.
The purest form of coconut oil, VCO has been generating a lot of interest in coconut-producing countries as well as importing nations because of its multi-functional uses and the way it can be produced at different production levels. VCO production offers an opportunity for the Pacific region’s coconut farmers to increase their income with this alternative to low value copra production.
Aside from presenting VCO processing technologies specifically suited to Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs), the manual covers options for the processing of coconut shell, water from mature coconuts and coconut milk residue, which are by-products of VCO processing.
It also includes the processing of VCO-based downstream products such as herbal soap, aromatherapy oils and herbal lotions, using aromatic plants available in the Pacific.
The manual’s author, Divina D. Bawalan, was previously a senior science research specialist with the Philippine Coconut Authority.
In the course of conducting VCO training courses in PICTs since 2006, Ms Bawalan discovered that one of the simplest micro/home scale VCO processing technologies that was developed in the Philippines and documented in an earlier manual, does not actually work well in the Pacific region. This may be due to the differences in coconut variety, coconut harvesting procedures and other factors.
As a result, for every training course conducted by Ms Bawalan in a Pacific country, modifications to the process were made, adapting it to the particular conditions of each country.