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  • Ian Gray

Educate your children by paying in coconuts...

Updated: Oct 27, 2021

This DME Unit in Malaita, Solomon Islands, supports close to 1500 people in a place where there was little employment opportunity and cash flow.

In 2007, and after 30 years working for the Government and for a phone utility, Joses retired, or rather ‘re-tyred’ – had a tyre change and just kept going.

With 7 children and 26 grandchildren, he wanted to find a way to provide opportunities for his ever-growing family in their rural community. They loved the idea of setting up a DME Unit right in their village and they did exactly that.

Their RELA mill, is one of the longest running DME Units in the Solomon Islands.

They average 60 litres of oil a day, all of which meets the organic certification and export standards. RELA mill buys 1000 local coconuts a day from 17 organically certified farms, supporting close to 1500 people.

Over the years RELA mill has helped the community establish a school by sponsoring a local person to become a qualified teacher with university degree. They have a coconut kindergarten. The parents pay the school fees in coconuts, which are processed into oil. Close by is a pig farm which provides a ready and steady market for the by-products from the DME unit, namely the press-cake and coconut water, which make excellent livestock feed.

Joses’ wife Janet swears by the press-cake as chicken feed, with her hens all producing lots of eggs and healthy chicks. As another income stream, Janet also makes and sells coconut oil soap.

Their seven children now work in many aspects of the business and in 2016 Joses and Janet extended the RELA mill adding extra presses, graters and dryers. This has doubled their capacity, providing a greater positive impact for the village community.

The RELA mill is located in the Namo Lae Lae village, Malaita, Solomon Islands

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