THE new Virgin coconut oil factory on Rabi Island means employment opportunities for its people.
The $27,000 Integrated Human Resources Development Program (IHRDP)-funded project under the Ministry of Strategic Planning was officially opened this week.
Acting commissioner northern Alipate Bolalevu said the factory currently employed six full-time workers but as operations expanded, more villagers would be considered for employment.
"The factory was completed in May this year and it's now operational," he said.
"The factory is a blessing because it will not only benefit the employees but the villagers as well.
"This is because they (villagers) will also have a chance to earn income from selling coconuts to the factory.
"The factory not only produces virgin coconut oil but also other coconut materials such as desiccated coconuts that can be used for pastry fillings, vinegar and rich coconut oil."
Mr Bolalevu said this was all part of government's efforts to economically empower the rural economy.
"We have bigger development plans for Rabi and this is all part of our attempts to improve the livelihoods of the people there."
IHRDP northern manager Mohammed Aslam Khan said prior to the construction of the factory, the islanders attended a training on coconut production funded by the New Zealand Government which cost $14,000.