Six women’s groups on the island of Taveuni and neighbouring Kioa Island received Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) machines as part of a recently concluded training under the Taveuni Coconut Centre program.
While officially handing over the VCO machines at the Agriculture Research Station in Mua, Taveuni yesterday, Minister for Agriculture Dr. Mahendra Reddy reiterated the Ministry’s expectations that these trained women’s groups would take advantage of the opportunity afforded to them through the training.
“Any knowledge you gain, ultimately, if the knowledge does not contribute to new growth and development, if it does not contribute to the society benefiting from it, then that knowledge has no value.”
“At any point in time, we as an agriculture institute, or any educational or development agency, one of our core businesses should be creating new knowledge, and I do hope that through the training which you have completed, you have indeed gained new knowledge; and it is my pleasure to hand over to you these VCO machines which we anticipate will impact your life and the quality of your life, while also contributing to national development,” Minister Reddy said.
Additionally, he emphasised on the importance of maintaining quality as part of venturing into a small and micro-enterprise; “I would just like to caution you, that during such small-micro enterprises who are all producing a particular product, there could be an issue of quality weakness.”
“In your case, given that you want to produce VCO, you must ensure that you maintain standards in quality. If you want to continue to have a permanent place in the market, I do hope that you seek the advice of experts to help you maintain quality in order to secure your market so that when the time comes, the demand is there for your products to be sold in the market,” he said.
“Conform to the quality standards and I can assure you that the market, through AMA (Agricultural Marketing Authority), will be readily available to purchase your products,” Minister Reddy added.
Dateline Women’s Group representative Maria Akanisi thanked the Ministry for supporting women’s empowerment; “The presentation of these machines today will ensure we can put what we’ve learned to practice, which at the same time will upskill us and enhance our knowledge of value-addition and Virgin Coconut Oil production.
“We now realize how important and unique the coconut plant is to our society, something that we learned from the training and we’re grateful to the Ministry for facilitating the handing over of these machines which we truly believe will help us to achieve our goals in our various groups as we seek to utilize this most abundant resource,” said Akanisi.
Six women’s groups from Taveuni and the neighboring island of Kioa were part of the two week VCO training at the Mua Research Station including Dateline Women’s Group, Kioa Women’s Group, Matei Women’s Group, Mua Women’s Group, Duavata Women’s Group, and Welagi Women’s Group.
The 12th Coconut Wholenut Processing training under the Taveuni Coconut Centre (TCC) program was held in July this year.
It was held to economically empower and enhance coconut knowledge, targeting women’s groups, youth groups, villages and communities on the island on whole nut processing and how to fully utilize coconut products, while slowly diversifying from the copra industry.
More than 100 farmers groups have participated in the Coconut Wholenut Processing training with the same number of VCO machines being handed over to the participating groups throughout the training series.