TONGA IMPROVES COPRA PRODUCTION FOR EXPORT

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NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga (February 26, 1998 - PACNEWS/Tohi)---Tonga's copra exports have declined in recent years but efforts by some local businesses now are succeeding in boosting industry revenues.

An Australian company, Gardner Smith Ltd., now is buying the dried coconut meat from a local agent Mark Shipping, Radio Tonga reports.

Ma'ake Faka'osifolau, manager of the Tongan shipping firm, says almost 300 tons of copra have been collected from the northern Tongan island areas of Ha'apai, Vava'u and the Niuas and now await shipment to Samoa.

Faka'osifolau says as a result of the copra industry slump, many growers now are selling green and dry whole coconuts to exporters.

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