Pacific Organic & Ethical Trade Community


Posted On: July 2, 2017

Since the dawn of time, the versatile coconut, Cocos Nucifera, has been a powerhouse of nutrition and healing for Pacific communities. In Solomon Islands, the coconut is everything – it is a basic ingredient in food dishes; it has healing properties; it is used for aesthetic, cultural and religious purposes; and it provides an income.

Joseph Naumai operates Rela Kokonuts, which sells organically certified coconut oil for SBD 24 per litre to POETCom member, Kokonut Pacific. His coconut plantations are NASAA certified organic and can produce up to 10,000 coconuts per month. NASAA is the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia.

On average, a tall variety of coconut tree under optimal conditions of temperature and rainfall produces up to 300 nuts a year. Oil is expressed from the nuts and sold to Kokonut Pacific. But Naumai does not depend on his plantation alone; he supplements his nut supplies by buying from 17 other local farmers in a quasi-cooperative arrangement. These farmers are young men and women whose plantations are also certified.

Rela Kokonuts is a successful business model that has been supporting the education of youth and providing livelihoods to people in the community of Fiu in Malaita Province.

Naumai is not a youth, though he says he feels youthful at heart. At 65 years of age, he is still going strong and is using his enterprise to show youths of Fiu that a living can be earned from the land.

‘It’s a mad rush for Honiara. As soon as the young people grow up, they want to leave, filled with a lot of hope of finding work in the city. When they don’t find work, they stay there and eventually return home, feeling defeated. We, the parents, are to blame as well for not showing them early in life that not all the jobs are in the city.

‘Farm life requires hard work, but with organic certification it’s a matter of discipline and order and we get good returns in the end, which reinforces my belief that farming is an honourable profession.

‘I have retired into farming, having spent a long time working for the government’s maritime division, but many times I regret that I didn’t start much earlier. I guess it’s the message I’m trying to share with young people now. Don’t get fooled by the comforts of the city when wealth can be got right here on the farm.’

Rela Kokonuts also makes soap and cosmetics, which he sells to the local community, and the company has assisted in various community development projects, such as setting up the community kindergarten.


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