One of Coconut Knowledge Center’s People, Wahyu is interviewed by the Direct Micro Expelling (DME) website, explaining his relationship with coconut and how the system has benefited his community.
Gede Wahyudi Antara, known as Wahyu, is General Manager of the UD Restu DME Unit at Tabanan in Bali. Wahyu’s main responsibility is with sales & marketing and overseeing the supervisor responsible for virgin coconut oil (VCO) production.
Wahyu was born into a coconut farmer family and spent his childhood in the village. He helped his parents to plant rice, coconut, cacao, and banana. Wahyu’s upbringing gained him a deep empathy for the coconut tree and its uses within Balinese ceremony, food culture and traditions. He also believes it is important to innovate to maximise the usage of coconut as a source of both food, healthcare and sustainable products.
In 2005 Wahyu graduated from university with a major in Business Management. He worked in sales and marketing for a baking ingredient company then worked on a cruise ship as a room steward. It all changed in 2016 when his best friend Mr Parwitha introduced him to Haigan Murray of the Coconut Knowledge Centre (CKC) who offered him the role of GM at UD Restu, a recently built DME Unit.
After becoming familiar with the production process in making VCO using the DME method, understanding the work environment, and getting to know the workers, Wahyu then developed a marketing strategy, to include labels & packaging, product catalogue, brochures as well providing samples to potential target customers. The business model focuses on empowering women so they can support their family by offering opportunities to work in a safe, caring work environment.
In Bali there is great respect for the coconut and whenever there is a ceremony, the nut and fronds are given as an offering at the temple. During these times each family growing coconut can make USD3000 annually selling the nuts and fronds. The coconut itself is part of a special ceremony held every six months honouring plants called Tumpek Bubuh where they serve a rice flour and coconut porridge. It’s a time to reflect on the importance of plants and preservation of the natural environment. During Tumpek Bubuh no one can cut trees or pick fruit.
The area is excellent for growing coconuts and the tree itself gives many benefits, however while growing up, palm oil is what Wahyu is familiar with for cooking. Palm oil is the cheaper affordable oil, but unsustainable. Before palm oil the village always cooked with coconut oil (produced in small quantities by boiling the coconut milk then collect the remaining oil) but now it is only used in traditional dishes to maintain the original taste. Hopefully in time and by raising awareness, the local community will gain a greater appreciation for the importance of utilising coconut as a sustainable alternative to palm oil for the environment, and for the health & wellbeing of the people.
UD Restu’s DME Unit operates as a small scale, village based mini factory pressing coconut into oil along with other value-added products like coconut shell charcoal and food from the coconut meal (press-cake), but that is not all. With the drop in oil sales due to Covid, Wahyu searched for additional income. Armed with the knowledge that the DME press could be utilised for other seed and nut, and with the support & encouragement from his pharmacist wife, Wahyu introduced local moringa seed and candlenut into the production. The result is excellent, and sales are starting to increase.
By diversifying and creating exciting new products has opened the door to more opportunities in the market. In the future Wahyu plans to create more healthy food alternatives and natural cosmetics. This expansion will create more opportunities for employment helping more people in his community.
Before Covid the DME Unit was operating seven days each week, pressing 30 litres per day (from two presses) Now it operates five days per week. There are eight operators.
The Coconut Knowledge Centre has opened Wahyu’s mind to the opportunities for a bright future for coconut products which are sustainable. The DME Unit also acts as a regional ‘showcase’ and has been visited by many interested parties from government and private sectors from around Indonesia. As a result, it has led to other DME Units being established over the past few years. By contributing his experience and passion to the Coconut Knowledge Centre mission to innovate and provide coconut sector performance, Wahyu is proud to share his learned knowledge, to improve the economic opportunity for small holder farmers and provide an incentive for the replanting of coconut trees, which has been lacking due to the under-utilisation of the coconut.
– Article reposted with credit to https://www.directmicroexpelling.com/.
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