In Papua New Guinea, East New Britain province has emerged as a leader in downstream processing of the humble coconut.
Combining traditional communal ties with modern technology, several Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in East New Britain are now leading in exporting coconut products into other provinces, as well as overseas.
Kokonas Indastri Koporesen (KIK) recently visited several SMEs in East New Britain to gauge the level of progress being made by these groups in adding value to coconut.
Their first stop was at Rabaul Virgin Coconut Oil (RVCO). Located in the Rabaul District, RVCO supports the local economy by purchasing coconuts from surrounding communities.
Whilst RVCO supplies the local market, another coconut SME has made the transition to supplying niche markets overseas.
Tropic Fronds, supplies virgin coconut oil to markets including Australia and New Zealand. The development of coconut SMEs, particularly in East New Britain province, has been welcomed by the KIK.
Despite challenges in the local industry, the KIK is optimistic that more coconut SMEs can tap into exports markets, and ultimately raise the reputation of Papua New Guinean coconut products.