[Marianas Variety] Marshall Islands Copra Production Hits Five-Year High
Ailinglaplap credited for producing most tonnage in 2013
MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, Oct. 24, 2013) – Copra production in the Marshall Islands hit a five-year high during fiscal year 2013, with 7,048.5 tons recorded by the Majuro-based Tobolar Copra Processing Authority.
It is only the fourth year since copra tonnage records began being kept in 1951 that Marshalls producers have surpassed the 7,000 ton figure. The record was in 1995 of 7,728 tons.
Copra “production” in the Marshall Islands depends on shipping because the dried coconut meat must be transported to the processing mill in Majuro. Frequent ship service translates directly to higher copra tonnage since copra makers are continuously preparing the dried coconut meat for market, but often cannot get it to market.
The FY 2013 tonnage — October 2012 through September 2013 — reflects a strong third quarter total, when 2,543.6 tons was recorded. This was nearly double the normal three-month copra haul, and put Marshall Islands copra makers on track for a record-breaking year. A vessel donated by Taiwan to the copra processing plant arrived three months ago and has been servicing many islands, helping to boost copra levels. But the last quarter of the year was the lowest of FY 2013, with 1,346 tons recorded, giving Tobolar a solid but not history-making year for copra.
In contrast to recent past years where Arno Atoll has benefited from its close proximity to Majuro to be the country’s number one copra producer, in FY 2013 the title went to Ailinglaplap by a long shot. During the year, Ailinglaplap had six ship pickups that brought in copra tonnage ranging from a low of 100 tons in July to 351 tons last December. Ailinglaplap generated 1,340 tons, while Arno, in second, accounted for 1,085. In contrast, Jaluit received only one visit by a government ship all fiscal year and did not make the “top 10” copra producers’ list as it often has in the past.
There are a number of reasons for the comparatively low copra returns the last three months of the fiscal year. During August, one of three government passenger and cargo vessels spent most of its time delivering students and teachers to the outer islands and did not collect copra. A second vessel was chartered at certain times by U.S. government-related agencies to deliver disaster relief to northern islands affected by drought, and charter requirements precluded collecting copra during these charters.
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