The director of Women in Business Development Samoa says its virgin coconut oil exports are on the rise after receiving 35,000 Fiji dollars worth of production equipment.
Adimaimalaga Tafuna'i says the equipment will allow it to expand, increase exports to the Body Shop in the United Kingdom by more than 10 tonnes, and work with other Pacific nations.
Ms Tafuna'i told Mary Baines how the project was going.
ADIMAIMALAGA TAFUNA'I: Well, we produce oil over the islands in Samoa. The families who produce the oil get maximum benefits for the oil because it's organically certified. It has the community fair-trade label from the Body Shop in the UK, which is the biggest buyer of our oil, and people have really developed sustainable livelihoods.
MARY BAINES: And I understand you've recently got some new equipment which will increase the amount of oil you are able to make.
ADIMAIMALAGA TAFUNA'I: Yes, our markets keep expanding. We're actually working in other countries in the region together to see if we can eventually market together. And we recently received funding from the Secretariat of the Pacific Community IAC project, where they funded some new virgin coconut oil presses, as well as graters. So we've set up some new sites on the island of Savai'i. And this is basically because of the increase in the market, but also because after Cyclone Evan that we experienced last year there hasn't been any production of coconut oil on the main island of Upolu in Samoa. So these machines have come in very useful on Savai'i Island.
MARY BAINES: Right. And will, do you think, the Body Shop take on more product from you?
ADIMAIMALAGA TAFUNA'I: Yes. We're actually looking at other products with the Body Shop. We've just had a visit by a Body Shop senior community trade buyer looking at all of our sites. Because to set up and be a Body Shop partner we've got to comply with their community fair-trade charter, which Women In Business does. And we're just trying to help other groups in the Pacific to be in the same situation we're in.
MARY BAINES: So you mentioned some other countries were getting involved?
ADIMAIMALAGA TAFUNA'I: Yes, in Tonga we've worked for, I think, about four years or more with the Tonga National Youth Congress. This year, they've got some farms organically certified and they've set up quite a few coconut oil production sites on the outer islands of Tonga. So we'll be working very closely with them, as well.