HIGH QUALITY COCONUT OIL PROVIDES GOOD PROFIT IN SOLOMONS

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CANBERRA, Australia (June 15, 1998 - PACNEWS/Ioane)---A Solomon Islands businessman is making a good profit from producing high quality coconut oil using a unique technology developed at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra.

The businessman produces more than 30 liters (7.8 gallons) of oil a day for a daily net profit of well over $A US 150 ($US 90), after paying seven employees and the farmers for the coconuts.

Recently-retired ANU academic Dr. Dan Etherington, spent five years developing the small-scale coconut press that allows villagers to turn their coconuts into high-quality oil for use in cosmetics or cooking or as a diesel substitute.

Already 50 of his coconut presses have been sold, primarily to operators in Fiji, Kiribati, the Solomon Islands and Samoa.

The Fiji government plans to invest $A 200,000 ($US 120,000) over the next four years to develop the infrastructure required to support local community production and marketing of the oil, while the Canadian and New Zealand governments have helped Pacific Island people interested in adopting the technology.

Dr. Etherington says the response from village people has been very good, with continuing requests for more of the coconut press units.

He says the total establishment costs of about $AUS 6,000 ($US 3,600) can be recouped in less than one year.

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