1 Feb 2010

Copra production in Marshall Islands at lowest since 50s

12:16 pm on 1 February 2010

Statistics issued by the Marshall Islands government copra processing plant has shown the first decade of the 2000s produced the lowest level of copra since the 1950s.

2000 to 2009 saw over 50-thousand tons of copra milled at the Tobolar Copra Processing Plant.

Without improved shipping service from 2006-2009, the decade just passed would have seen an all-time copra low.

Shipping is the key to the copra industry in the country, since 95 percent of the production comes from remote islands scattered over 800 thousand square kilometres of ocean area.

The government's planning chief, Carl Hacker, says outer islanders list shipping as one of their top concerns.

He says shipping directly relates to their ability to get copra to market so they can generate a few dollars for their families.

"Copra is really about it, if you are not a health aid [worker] or a teacher at one of the outer island schools, it's going to be tough."