Realising economic potential through coconut processing training in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara

The long coastal line of Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara presents many economic potentials. In addition to tourism, the rows of coconut trees growing across the island give another alternative as one source of livelihood that can improve the welfare of the community.

The 21 year-old Zuhrotun Nizam was encouraged to participate in a training on the processing and marketing of coconut derivative products by Terasmitra as she witnessed the hard work that women in Korleko village, Labuan Haji sub-district, East Lombok District, West Nusa Tenggara, as workers in the brick factory to sustain their families. Majority of these women are single parents and they continue to work despite of old age. Nizam, her nick name, wanted to help these women by providing a different livelihood option.

“I’m really upset and concerned [seeing] this condition. I want to help the people of my village, especially the women who work as the brick factory’s labourers. I’m trying to provide a different job for them,” the Food Science and Technology student at the Mataram University said.

She eagerly signed up to the training when she heard that it would provide information about utilising coconut trees that grow in abundant in her village. Generally the coconuts produced in Korleko Village are directly sold without further processing to traders in Java.

To help the people in Lombok to get the maximum benefits from the coconut tree and fruit that grow in their regions, Terasmitra organised a training to produce virgin coconut oil (VCO). This training is a part of the Employment and Livelihood project, a joint United Nations (UN) initiative in Indonesia, funded by the UN COVID-19 Response and Recovery Multi-Partner Trust Fund (UN MPTF).

“This training is one of the manifestations of our commitments and wishes to support the community recovered from the pandemic by using resources available near them,” said Navitri Putri Guillaume, the ILO's National Project Officer in Jakarta.

During the training that was held at the Syariah Lingkar Rinjani Co-operative office in Gatep Ampenan, Mataram on 1-4 July 2021, Nizam learned about how to produce VCO, starting from choosing the raw material, producing, and packaging the VCO. She gained new knowledge in processing coconuts, adding up into her existing skills to produce coconut oil, blondo (the pulp from coconut oil production), duck’s feed and coconut shell.

After the training, Nizam immediately shared the lessons that she had learned by conducting a small training in her village. The women in the village then began to produce VCO and coconut oil.

“The response was good, people were happy. Since their income has decreased because of the pandemic, they can gain additional work and income by producing VCO and coconut oil,” she said.

The products made by the women of Korleko village, such as coconut oil and blondo have been distributed for sale. Coconut oil is sold at the local kiosks, but some of it and blondo are distributed to a number of restaurants. The shells are purchased by collectors and VCO is sold at several co-operatives in Mataram.

Nizam is delighted that she could fulfil the expectation of people in her village to help improve their economic condition. She hopes that the women of Korleko Village can become even more proficient in producing VCO and other coconut derivative products so they can maximise the potential of their region.