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Business

Coconut processor sparks interest in Lau

March 03
10:47 2013

The chairman and managing director of Island Virgin Coconut Oil, Jim Bandy with an attendant as he demonstrates the use of the equipment he has designed to extract virgin coconut oil. Photo: FILE

By ELLEN STOLZ

The news of innovative Fijian-made equipment that would greatly assist coconut farmers was music to Samuela Sukabula’s ears.
Mr Sukabula lives in Mabula village on Cicia Island in the Lau Group.
Like many other coconut farmers he can already see the potential the new equipment would have in improving the lives of copra farmers in Cicia.
The equipment he is referring to of course is Jim Bandy’s Fijian-made equipment designed to ease the production of virgin coconut oil.
Mr Sukabula said: “I was very interested in this new machine because it would save us a lot of work.
“At the moment the main source of income here on the island is selling copra. There are about 200 copra farmers in my village alone. This is why I want to help the development of the copra industry with this new equipment.”
The 57-year old man said he was very interested in acquiring the equipment to continue with the coconut industry on his island.

The equipment

The equipment package costs $30,000 and includes a dryer, press, scrapers, stainless steel buckets, filter for filtering process and all things needed for producing virgin coconut oil. And for another $3000, the equipment will be set up and training and supervision will be provided for the beginning of the process.
“With this new machine I would be very interested in switching from producing and selling copra to virgin oil.
“This would be a good incentive for the people of Cicia to plant more coconut trees for more copra which will eventually lift their standard of living,” he said.

Sukabula the businessman

People may not know this but Mr Sukabula said he was one of the first people in Suva making and selling barbecue in the streets of Suva in 1987.
“I went to court about three times for selling the barbecue and then later I was granted a licence to operate out of the market near the Police post at the Suva bus stand,” he said.
After working from his barbecue caravan, which he bought to sell the food, for 12 years, Mr Sukabula went to live in Australia for two years.
Now retired and back in the village, he plans to use his experience to help his people prosper and do well.
“My father was able to send me to school with the money that we earned from selling copra and they have to work really hard to do so.
I want to help my people realise the great opportunity that lies ahead of us all with the introduction of this machine,” he said.

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