Shed Promises Good Fortune for VCO Firm


THE new processing shed promises a lot of good fortunes for the people on the island of Batiki who have been producing virgin coconut oil for the last three years mostly for the export market.

With a current annual return of investment at $40,000, their intention now is to grow into a million-dollar business.

Business development specialist Jodie Smith, whose forefathers first set foot on Levuka as merchants in the early colonial contact era has been actively behind the management of Bula Batiki Company with the intention of growing and giving something back to the community.

“My forefathers were Chinese business people who came to Fiji to run businesses in Levuka and here I am generations later, helping our Bula Batiki Company and establish it as source of income,” Ms Smith said.

“There is a lot that has been done at the village level to start the business and we are thankful to the Government especially the Prime Minister for coming out here to launch the processing shed which will no doubt accelerate the work that is being done with Bula Batiki.

” The new shed that was constructed through funding of $70,000 by the Ministry of Agriculture is assisting villagers to secure an income generating source using the natural resources available to them. With an abundance of coconut trees on the island it was not difficult organising the setting up of the business through their village setting. Manager Jovesa Bolabasaga, who helps out at the Bula Batiki Company at the village level, said they have producing virgin coconut oil which they have been packaging mostly for the export market in New Zealand.

“The idea is to grow it to the million-dollar business with the unique Bula Batiki brand and have it exported around the world. We also want to create new products like the surf board wax which is popular with tourists around the world and especially for surfer in general,” Mr Bolabasaga said.

“The new processing shed will provide us that opportunity to be creative in this business and also be able to produce VCO for the Bula Batiki brand. The company employs villagers with the majority being women and hopes to increase their supply thereby using the natural resources from across the Lomaiviti islands.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said the Bula Batiki Company is a fine example of what Fijians can do but more than that, it shows that you don’t have to live in Suva or Lautoka to seize a place in the global economy.

“This enterprise started in 2017, just three years ago, and the four villages of the Tikina Batiki —Mua, Yavu, Manuku and Naigani—were exporting their oil to the European market. When that became too expensive, they found a market in New Zealand. And I am certain that they will find more markets and ex-port more oil in the coming years,” Prime Minister Bainimarama said.

“But I understand that you had been processing the oil in the Yavu Village Community Hall. That might have been acceptable when you were starting out, but a serious and growing business needs a proper place to produce and package its product—a place with adequate space and proper ventilation. And now you have one.

” The Prime Minister as a Fijian was very proud of what the four villages were working together on for their common benefit to make a high-quality product that can be exported to the world’s most sophisticated markets. “You have created the Bula Batiki brand, and you are carrying it forward. The $75,000 invested in this project through the Ministry of Agriculture is well spent and will be repaid many times over by the income this Company will generate for the Fijian economy,” he said.