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The organic oil is cold pressed from fetau nuts

By Taina Kami Enoka APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, May 1, 2011) – In Samoa, organic premium oil produced from the nut of the fetau plant will be exported to Germany within the next month.

The project was launched at Nu’u by Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi yesterday.

The plant fetau as known in Samoa is scientifically called the Calophyllum inophyllum. It is popular in the Pacific for its decorative leaves, fragrance and spreading crown.

The seeds produce thick dark green oil with active ingredients believed to regenerate tissue and is sought after by cosmetics manufacturers as an ingredient in skin creams.

In Samoa, are two charity organizations, the Bingo Environment Foundation of the German Lower Saxony region and Benefiz, a non-governmental organization (NGO) run by German TV journalists.

They donated two German-built oil presses to the Women in Business Development Inc.

Lucas Rosenberg, project manager of Benefiz says the compact high tech oil presses with a pressure of 50 tons each.

"This will enable Women in Business to cold press organic oil from the fetau nuts that grow all over Samoa," he said.

The process only uses one kilowatt of electricity per machine every four hours.

Mr. Rosenberg says the German chancellor Angela Merkel will be presented a sample of Samoa’s fetau oil on June 27.

This would be during a live demonstration of pressing fetau oil at the German government’s big summer party with 3500 guests in Berlin.

"All the key German ministers will be there, as well as the elite of German business and society. This will be a perfect introduction of virgin Samoan Fetau oil in Europe."

This project started when German journalists Lucas and Hauke Hayen, also a board member of Benefiz contacted Women In Business Development Inc after seeing a blog entry online by the U.S. Ambassador to Samoa.

The journalists wanted to introduce new German technology to Samoa where a local NGO could help local villagers earn an income.

And when they were told about the fetau oil, it was a perfect. Nuts were sent to Germany and tested.

Mr. Rosenberg says the oil was highly skin absorbent and had a light walnut fragrance.

In exporting the nuts, they must be parasite free and in perfect form. It’s about quality and not quantity.

They also chose Samoa as it was a former German colony.

They are also confident that Women in Business and Samoa can become key players in the world market for Premium fetau oil.

"As far as we know the other major producers like Vanuatu and Indonesia are using different extraction processes that do not result in organic premium quality, and mix their Fetau with other oils like coconut and olive oil," says Mr. Rosenberg.

However, he says, cosmetic companies in Germany, St. Petersburg Russia and Los Angeles are interested in a virgin premium quality or pure oil.

Mr. Rosenberg has found that the elderly Samoans have always known about the effects virgin fetau oil has on the skin.

The younger generation knows nothing and Samoan children use the nuts to play marbles.

"At the wonderful Tafatafa beach we also witnessed the usefulness of fetau trees to hold together the coastline and provide a first-line defense against Tsunamis," he said.

They hope that more fetau trees will be planted along the coast for this cause and also for the added benefits of the seeds.

Ripe nuts after, Mr. Rosenberg says, that fall off the trees should be collected in nets similar to potato or onion bags on a regular basis.

Drying the nuts properly and slowly at low temp is another key factor. The nuts can then be squashed and put in the machines to yield Fetau oil.

Mr. Rosenberg predicts world wholesale prices that easily exceed 600 tala [US$ 261] per liter for premium quality.

Mr. Rosenberg said they were also looking at other oil compressing opportunities such as producing other body oils from coffee, noni, candlenuts and so on.

Meanwhile, Mr. Rosenberg and Mr. Hayen also presented three technologies during their visit. This included a solar tunnel drier for drying fruit like bananas for exports. This is with the Women in Business and will be used in Nu’u.

There is also a retort kiln to produce biochar charcoal from coconut shells to improve the yields of vegetable fields and gardens.

Then there is the brick machine that will be cloned by Samoa University’s Institute of Technology to enable villagers to make sturdy "earth bricks" from a mix of Samoan soil, river sand and 30 percent cement.

"Two people can easily produce 500 large bricks per day, right next to their future house. These technologies that we are successfully using in Africa are all premiering at Samoa, and could be implemented at every village on the islands", says Mr. Hayen.

Benefiz has been in operation since 2005 with other similar charity operations in Indonesia, Africa and other regions.

Mr. Rosenberg stresses that their assistance projects are all about charity.

"We have no financial interests. We just want to provide the technology to Samoa."

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