Coconut farming families in and around Choiseul Bay will no longer incur high shipping freights and travel the rough seas for days to sell their copra in Honiara.
The market is just at their door steps, thanks to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, MAL, for the funding, and Solomon Tropical Products, STP, for supplying and installing the TAMAKAE Copra Milling machineries and providing the necessary training needed to manage them.
A media statement from the Ministry says headed by a hardworking Dickson Vatokolo, the mill began operations after its official launching last month.
Speaking at the opening ceremony Agriculture’s Permanent Secretary Jimi Saelea urged farmers around the mill to maximise its potential.
He says, farmers will not have to go looking for markets outside their area.
Mr Saelea encouraged them to make full use of the facility to create livelihoods and employment to enhance their standard of living.
Meanwhile, mill managing Director Dickson Vatokolo says it is tough and challenging reaching out on such milestone development.
A copra buyer himself Mr Vatokolo says he realised the need to set up the mill due to unreliable and high shipping costs of copra to Honiara.
He says, it was not until 2012 that he learnt of the Ministry’s Coconut Industry Support Programme and submitted a proposal to the Ministry through the Agriculture Extension Office in Taro.
Mr Vatokolo says, it was a relief when the proposal was approved in January 2014 by the Ministry.
The milling machineries cost around $250,000 – set up by Solomon Tropical Product.
The funding covers two coconut crushing mill machines, an electrical switching for the mill set and a 33KVA Generator for Installation and training.