SOLOMON ISLANDS WILL CEASE COPRA EXPORTS BEGINNING

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NEXT YEAR

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (May 17, 1998 - PACNEWS/Ioane)---The Solomon Islands will no longer export copra --the lifeblood of the country's rural economy-- beginning next year.

The policy move, according to Solomon Islands Commodities Export Marketing Authority officials, is to encourage more downstream processing of copra into higher value products.

The Authority recently established copra crushing mills in Western, Makira and Temotu provinces in addition to two larger ones operated by the former Lever Brothers company, Ripel. The Authority says three more are planned for development in Guadalcanal, Isabel and Choiseul provinces.

Once these mills are fully operational, the Authority says, all copra produced in the Solomon Islands will be able to be crushed locally, setting the stage for further downstream processing into higher value oils, soaps and other products.

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