Link: Pacific Islands Report
Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Marshall Islands Copra Producers Mark Record Year
‘Solid rebound’ noted from decreases after 2008

By Giff Johnson

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Jan. 29, 2013) – Copra producers in the Marshall Islands had their best year in four years in 2012, according to data released Friday by the government’s coconut oil processing mill.

A total of 6,355 tons of copra was delivered to the Majuro mill for processing into coconut oil from January through December. This total includes 304.83 tons of copra purchased from Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia.

This is a solid rebound on the previous three years, which saw copra tonnage steadily decline from 2008’s second-highest total ever of 7,641 tons. Tonnage dropped to 4,168 tons in 2011 largely as a result of problems with the aging, government shipping fleet.

Copra statistics show the dramatic impact that the establishment of a state-owned enterprise has had on copra tonnage. The Marshall Islands Shipping Corporation (MISC) was established six years ago to improve poorly managed field-trip services for the outer islands then operated by the Ministry of Transportation.

Deliveries of copra to the processing plant in Majuro are up 35 percent since 2007, the first full year of Shipping Corporation operations. This has been accomplished despite a lack of ships and an aging fleet that has experienced significant time in port for maintenance before vessels were funded recently to go to Fiji for dry-docking. Wally Milne has managed MISC since its inception.

From 2000 through 2006, when the Ministry of Transport operated outer-island shipping services, copra tonnage averaged 4,404 tons per year, according to statistics maintained by the copra plant. From 2007 to 2012, the six full years of Shipping Corporation operation of shipping services, copra deliveries average 5,927 tons per year, 35 percent more than in the earlier period.

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