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CHAPTER ONE

          INTRODUCTION

1.1   BACKGROUND OF STUDY

Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) is a tree, referred to as “The Tree of Life”.  Early  Spanish explorers  called  coconut,  Coco  (“monkey  face”)  because  of  the  three  indentations  (eyes) on the dehusked coconut fruit which resembles the head  and  face  of  a  monkey.  Nucifera means "nut-bearing" (CRC, 2004). The people of Nzema in the Jomoro  district  refer  to coconut as “Kukue”, the  farmers  slogan  is  “Kukue, Esuka Bakah”  (Coconut,  the  money tree), this is as a result of its high economic value.

Nearly one third of the world's population depend  much  on coconut  as their  source  of food and for their economy (CRC, 2004). On many islands  in  the  world,  coconut  is  a  staple  in their diet which supply a nutritious meat, oil, juice and milk that has  fed  and  nourished population around the globe for generations (CRC, 2004).

Historically, coconut oil is one of the earliest oils to be consumed as a food and for medicinal purposes (Fife, 2004). People who consume coconut oil  or  used  it  as  medicine, enjoy remarkably  good  health  and  longevity  and  studies  have  shown  that  people  whose  diet are high in  coconut  oil,  are  healthier  and  have  fewer  incidences  of  cardiovascular disease, digestive complaints, cancer and prostate problems (Fife, 2004).

Research  and  clinical  observation  have  shown  that  coconut  oil  contains  Medium-chain Fatty Acids which can prevent and treat a  wide  range  of diseases (Fife,  2004). Coconut oil  can prevent heart diseases, high blood pressure, stroke, support the development  of  strong bones and teeth, promote loss of excess weight, protect against kidney diseases and bladder infections. Furthermore, it prevents liver diseases, protect the  body  from  breast,  colon  and other cancers, control  dandruff,  wrinkles  sagging  skin  and  age  spots  (Fife,  2004;  CRC, 2004 and Organic facts, 2014).

As stated by Coconut Research Centre - CRC (2004),  coconut  possesses  many  health benefits due to its fibre and nutritional content.  It  was  stated that it  is  the  oil that makes it  a  truly remarkable food and medicine. Coconut  oil  was  believed  to  be  unhealthy  by  most people because of its high saturated fat content, but  research  indicated  that  the  fats  in coconut oil is unique and different from most other  fats  (Fife,  2004).  Coconut  oil  saturated fatty acids  content  are  predominately  medium-chain  fatty  acids  (MCFA)  which  is  also known as medium chain triglycerides (MCT) (Fife, 2004).

The best sources of fats are from coconut  and  palm kernel oils  because  both the  saturated  and  unsaturated  fat  found  in  kernels,  milk,  eggs  and  plants  (including  most  vegetable  oils) are composed of long chain fatty acid (LCFA) (CRC, 2004).

United Nation Conference on Trade  and Development -  UNCTAD  (2012),  stated  that coconut oil is used for  cooking  and  in  the  oleo-chemical  industry  for  making  margarine, soaps and it has  the  potential  for  energy  generation  as  a  bio  fuel;  either  mixed  with  diesel or as a substitute for diesel.

Coconuts are produced in about 92  countries  worldwide  on  about  11.8  million  hectares  (29.5 acre) of lands. World production  is  estimated  at  61.7  million  tons  with  an  average yield of  5.2  tons  /  ha.  The  top  leading  producing  countries  are  Indonesia  (21,565,700 tons), Philippines (15,667,600 tons), India (10,148,000  tons),  Sri  Lanka  (2,099,000  tons) and Brazil (1,973,370 tons) (UNCTAD, 2012).

World coconut oil production  has  been increasing  over  the  past decade. It is  now  estimated at 3.5 million tons per annum (UNCTAD,  2012).  This  accounts  for  2.5  %  of  world vegetable oil production. Over 70 % of global coconut oil production comes  from  the Philippines (1,690,000 MT), Indonesia (968,000 MT),  India  (447,000  MT),  Vietnam (153,000 MT) and Mexico (145,000 MT). Moreover, the only African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries in the top ten coconut oil  producers   was   Papua  New  Guinea (63,000 MT) and Côte d‟Ivoire (28,000 MT) (UNCTAD, 2012).

In Ghana large  scale  farms  and  plantations  produce  mainly  oil  palm,  rubber  and  coconut and to a lesser extent, maize, rice and pineapples (FASDEP II, 2007).  According to United  States Department of Agriculture – USDA, IndexMundi (2014), the production of coconut oil in Ghana has reduced drastically by  42.86  %  (4,000  MT)  in  year  2000.  However,  in year 2011 it increased by 50 % (6,000 MT) and has remained at that level till 2013.

Exports of Coconut oil have been increasing over the last  decade  mainly  because  of  the greater global need for coconut oil (essential characteristics). In 2008, just over 2 million tonnes of coconut oil were traded on the world market.  The  Philippines  was  the  largest exporter of coconut oil in 2008, with 42 % of world exports and the  main  destination markets for the  oil  were  USA  and  Europe  (Netherlands,  Germany)  accounting  for  24  % and 25 % of imports respectively (UNCTAD, 2012).

As stated in Organic  facts  (2014),  primarily  there  are  6  varieties  of  coconut  oil  found  on the  world  market.  The  varieties  are  pure  coconut  oil,   refined   coconut  oil,   virgin  coconut oil,  organic  coconut  oil,  organic  virgin  coconut  oil  and  extra  virgin  coconut  oil.   According to Fife (2004), coconut oil can be divided into two categories; “refined, bleached and deodorized” (RBD) coconut oil and “virgin” coconut oils.

There are a lot of methods for processing coconut into oil that  can  affect  the  quality, appearance, flavour and aroma. The quality of coconut oil depends a lot on the method of extraction that is practised. Basically, there are two  main categories  of  coconut  oil extraction; the first is Cold Pressing of copra (dried coconut kernels) and the second is Boiling/heating of fresh coconut milk (Organic facts, 2014). Cold pressing is the preferred method for the extraction of coconut oil  since  it  retains  much  of  oil‟s  goodness  (Organic facts, 2014). Coconut contain about 33 % of oil in the nut (Fife, 2004)

1.2Problem statement

The Food and Agriculture Sector Development Policy (FASDEP  II)  document  (2007), indicated that agriculture in Ghana is characterised by a large  smallholder  sector  and  a  very small large commercial sector, which comprises of both farming  and  agro-processing. Small-scale  or  micro  enterprises   contribute   significantly   to  economic   growth,   social stability and equity. The goals for micro enterprise are to  increase  income  and  assets,  to  improve skills and increase productivity (Timpo et al., 2008) as well as to produce new products or improve on existing products.

Adjei-Nsiah (2010) reveal that major refineries in Ghana do not buy palm oil from the small-scale processors due to poor quality oil (high FFA,  moisture  content  and  impurities), which unduly increase their cost of production. The coconut oil industry in the Jomoro District may face issues of high impurities, moisture content and high FFA. Moreover, the small-scale processors  uses  scent,  taste   and  colour  to  determine  quality  instead  of impurities, moisture content and FFA.

The low availability of coconut oil may not be


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