New opportunities for women in Kiribati’s Virgin Coconut Oil Facility

April 28, 2023

Tarawa, Kiribati – The Tebamuri Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) tab-South facility will generate more income and revenue for the people of Kiribati, an island nation with a population of over 100 thousand people.

The facility, which began operation in December 2022, is an outcome of the UN Development Programme’s Kiribati Trade Capacity development and Institutional Strengthening Project (Phase 2), which aims to increase supply to boost domestic trade and the value of exports by purchasing processing equipment to facilitate value addition for coconut-related products and developing processing centres. The VCO facility aims to improve Kiribati’s livelihoods, overall income, and employment opportunities.  

Kiribati President His Excellency, Hon. Taneti Maamau highlighted that the VCO centre will have positive impacts on the people of Tab-South Island. “The first will be an increase in income generation from the selling of the coconuts to the centre.  The second will be an improved health for the people from buying and consuming the products of this centre. The third will be an increase in employment opportunities,” he said.

Guests at the opening of the VCO facility.

Photo: Supplied

Staff members of Tebamuri VCO facility.

Photo: Supplied

Three women have been trained to take the lead in the facility’s production of virgin coconut oil products and by-products such as soaps, pig feed, coconut coffee, coconut vinegar, charcoal powder, body oils, etc. More women are expected to be employed at the facility when it expands.  

The processing centre is targeting producer cooperatives trained in the production of value-added coconut products like Virgin Coconut Oil, Coconut Sap Sugar, and Coconut Soap. It’s also equipped with production tools to support the producers especially women and the youth on the outer islands to maximize skills gained in the production of coconut value-added products, as this is one of the challenges faced by local Small and Micro Entrepreneurs (SME’s) and local producers. 

It's expected the centre will have wider spill-over effects to those engaged in the production and distribution value chain. It will also assist in disseminating knowledge on coconut value addition/processing and marketing in Tarawa the outer islands.

Virgin coconut oil equipment used at the facility.

Photo: Supplied

Virgin coconut oil equipment used at the facility.

Photo: Supplied

The Kiribati Government through its 20-year vision development plan (KV20) is seeking to develop economic activities on the outer islands, through creation of new industries and improved trade with the view of enhancing inclusive growth, sustainable development, and poverty reduction. 

Coconut remains as one of the complementary sectors that can support the realization of the KV20 vision, given its linkages with tourism sector and the cultural capital component of KV20. It’s in this context that a processing centre targeting production of value-added coconut products was established to support the development of inclusive trade and private sector development. 

The project is being implemented by the Project Management Unit at the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives in collaboration with UNDP as the main implementing entity.

For more information contact: 

Akosita Talei, Communications and Research Officer, Inclusive Growth Programme, UNDP Pacific Office, Suva, Fiji. Email: