Coconut is truly the ‘tree of life’ as it has many uses for millions across the globe. And in PNG, like many Pacific Island countries, virgin coconut oil is increasingly becoming popular for the production of medicines and cosmetics.
Leonard Sarikey Kaptigau, a lecturer at the Madang Teachers College, who has ventured into processing medicinal and cosmetic products from coconut oil says there is enormous potential in PNG’s rural communities. He has also developed products for cooking purposes. However, Mr Kaptigau, who is also a trained health nutritionist, says people like him needs more support in terms of funding and technical assistance from the Government.
The Department of Agriculture and Livestock last year donated an oil expeller machine worth over K9,000 and the Madang provincial administration provided some funding assistance for his research and training activities. But he needs to go a step further now that the public is aware of his work and there is increasing demand for the products. Since the donation of the machine, he has produced good quality virgin coconut oil.
Mr Kaptigau is asking DAL and other agencies to further assist him in purchasing storage containers in different sizes which can be used for storage and distribution. Different types of containers are needed to store and bottle the products and dispatch to various locations.
Mr Kaptigau has established ‘RM Sarikey Bio Products’ which has been producing a range of products from coconut oil and plants including virgin coconut oil, coconut cooking oil, cocoa butter oil, cocoa butter crude cream, carrot oil, sour sop oil, round cabbage oil, noni leaf oil, guava fruit oil, round onion oil, marita oil, cucumber oil and others.
Virgin coconut oil can be used together with a wide range of plant parts that contain cosmetic and medicinal properties to effect changes in the body by applying it externally on skin surfaces or drinking the oil. The oil expeller machine is capable of extracting oil from any oily seed as well as production of fruit juice by squeezing the fruit parts. It can also produce 40 litres of coconut oil from 200 coconuts in one hour.
Mr Kaptigau, who was trained in health and nutritional education, sports science and medicine in Australia, said it has taken him five years of study and experiments into how the purest coconut oil can be used together with plant parts to help the body. These products have already been given to the public and there have been positive results with no side effects experienced.
There is enormous potential for mass production with many people showing interest in the products. But this will depend on capital as well as facilities. The plan is to train villagers who can produce these products within their own communities and also provide opportunities for people to us their coconut, cocoa and plants for other uses.
“We are what we eat. The foods we eat do not just provide us with the energy or nutritional requirements but have healing properties to heal and stop major illnesses from making our mind and physical body sick”, Mr Kaptigau said.
He is now close to formulating a coconut-based product to cure the HIV Aids disease.