14 Oct 2010

Marshall Islands copra production hampered by poor shipping service

8:11 pm on 14 October 2010

Copra production in the Marshall Islands has dived, falling to its lowest level in five years.

The five and a half thousand tonnes is a 20 percent decline on the previous year and comes amid an increasingly sporadic shipping service serving the outer islands.

Four government ships used for collecting copra have needed dry-docking for major maintenance for the past three years, but officials say the government hasn't provided the money to do this.

As a consequence there's increasing down time with the vessels requiring more maintenance work to continue operations.

Copra generates around two and a half million US dollars for the Marshall Islands and is the primary source of income for the 17,000 people on the remote outer islands.

The foreign minister John Silk says the government has put a top priority on getting new vessels and is in negotiation with the Japanese government to fund the construction of two new ships.