THE opening of the new Coconut Whole Nut Processing Centre on Taveuni has paved the way for the development of its women.
Speaking at its opening, Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said the processing centre would provide training on what could be gained from copra.
Cakaudrove Soqosoqo Vakamarama trustee, Salaseini Fong said they were excited about the opportunities because of the benefits to the women on the island.
Mrs Fong said villagers would attend training and learn to operate the machine before sharing the skills with their colleagues.
"Not only will they learn about the operation of the machines but they will also learn about the various ways to utilise the different parts of the coconut, including its waste products," said Mrs Fong.
"We are also thinking about venturing into virgin coconut oil production for commercial purposes.
"Handicraft can also be made from the various parts of the coconut tree and apprentices at the centre will also learn to exploit the coconut plant and turn it to their advantage."
Mrs Fong said women of the province would grab the opportunity and venture into ways of improving their livelihood through the processing plant.
"Seeing the ideas shared by the staff of the Mua Research Station during the opening of the centre opened doors to us in terms of opportunities out there.
"We are going to take the ideas we have witnessed to women at grassroots level so they can have a chance to improve their lifestyle and that of their families.
"Women's groups will benefit a lot from the centre and we will also urge them to plant coconut trees."