Our Visit to the Banaban Coconut Oil Factory
No visit to Nuku would have been complete without a visit to the tiny building to watch the half a dozen welcoming and happy workers at the Banaban Virgin Coconut Oil Factory. So little we forgot to take its picture, so instead, the billboard poster taken at ‘the bus terminus’.
We walked a few dozen strides back from the bus depot and as we neared ‘the factory’ a lady whipped her music producing ear buds out, extended her hand and cracked massive smile. Such a welcome “Come, come, where are you visiting from”. The small building was in two halves, the left – the goings-on side, the right – storage and the office. In between was covered walkway set up as the de-fuzzing on one side and cracking on the other. The coconuts used here seemed to be small, no bigger than Bears fist, “yes, we use a hybrid here”. The weeny whose job it was to crack the coconuts wielded her machete as if it were a butter knife.............
Now inside the left-hand building we could see the spin-grinder machines used to remove the white flesh, called Splitting.
Next, the removed flesh is cold-pressed and the fluid is sieved three times, each through an ever finer mesh.
On the work bench was a pile of soap, I particularly like the star shapes that were formed in a jelly mould. Sadly, we couldn’t buy any as it wasn’t ‘tidied up’ or packaged. Surprisingly it had no aroma at all, wasn’t sticky and was quite solid.
Through a door, we were in the long drying room.
All the empty shells are piled in one corner and fed into the fire below, a happy chap turns the pressed flesh with a trowel to ensure even drying.
It takes just a half an hour to turn the moist chippings into the dry darker shade, this is then bagged and piled at the back by the flue, This will be sold to the locals for one pound sixty a sack, used to bulk up pig fodder.
Back through the splitting and soap room we passed through the ‘bits and bobs’ store room.
Outside our guide showed Maj the nearly finished product.
I nipped back and took the last of the process pictures.
Standing out in the sun, the last of the ‘bits’ are skimmed off and after three weeks the clear fluid is ready to be bottled. Perfumes can be added at this stage.
We bought a Sandalwood Body Oil for three pounds and Coconut Oil for one pound thirty, this can be used in cooking or a couple of spoonful’s can be taken “to keep you regular, if you are having problems not going”........ We then said our fond farewells and thanked to this great bunch of happy workers. Time for a snack before hitting the pier.
ALL IN ALL A JOYFUL VISIT
AMAZINGLY SMALL-SCALE INDUSTRY