Central Maluku communities in Maluku Province have appreciated the small and medium scale business empowerment program run by UGM over the past year to process coconuts.
Ricky, a member of the community that joined in the training, said the training on processing Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) had given him an income.
“The sale of the VCO is enough to support our family. We also consume the product ourselves and we have enjoyed its health benefits,” he said in his home in Isu village recently.
Another person, Leo Koritelu who owns a company processing coconut fibre, PT. Transindo Karya Mekar, said the training had given added value to his company and society.
“Formerly, we just made a few products, such as copra and cocofibre. But now we can process all of the cocounut’s parts, such as the coconut’s shell into charcoal, VCO, nata de coco, and other products, so nothing is wasted from the coconut,” said Leo.
The empowerment program is part of the Community Resilience and Economic Development (CaRED) program of UGM operating in East Indonesia. It is a collaboration between UGM and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) New Zealand. Five UGM lecturers carry out the program for the local communities to help them to process various local products which have the potential to provide a source of income for them, by utilising innovations in technology.
“The program is being conducted in Isu village,TNS Waipia district in Central Maluku regency, for a period of 30 months, from July 2016 to October 2018, and is supported by several institutions,” said Sutardi, the program’s principle investigator.
He explained that, with the coconut plantation measuring 24,000 hectares and producing 29,000 tonnes of coconut per year, the potential for the coconut product’s industry is huge. According to Sutardi, unfortunately the local farmers and coconut producers had yet to maximise this potential.
In the first year of the program, UGM researchers conducted several projects, such as human resource empowerment to utilize coconut fibre, coconut milk and making VCO, and using coconut shells for crafts and as a renewable energy source.
The chairperson of the local women’s program who is also the wife of the Regent, Amien Ruaty Tuasikal, said the program by UGM supported the regency in generating home industries and increasing their income.
“We are excited with what UGM has been doing here for the past year. I hope in the future more members of our community will join the training and the potential of this regency will grow further,” she said.