COPRA PRODUCTION ON THE A RISE IN CENTRAL BOUGAINVILLE

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By Moresi Ruahma'a

ARAWA, Papua New Guinea (May 4, 2000 – The National)---Copra production in Central Bougainville and parts of the mainland has been increasing rapidly following the re-opening of Kieta port early this year.

Over 1,600 tons of copra are ready for shipment overseas and stacked in a shed at the Kieta wharf.

This is nearly 400 tons more than the first shipment of 1,230 tons of copra to Bangladesh, soon after the re-opening of the port in February.

And the projections are that copra production will continue to increase beyond the current stock.

The Navueta Exporting Agency Ltd (NEA), a local company, is involved in exporting copra directly overseas since being issued a license by the Copra Marketing Board.

The establishment of the exporting company has also broken the CMB monopoly in the copra industry in North Solomons Province.

Speaking from Arawa, Central Bougainville managing director of the NEA, Joe Sidaung, said the current shipment was the bigger of two shipments to date.

"We are now waiting for a ship -- the MV Noumea -- to arrive this week for the shipment out on May 7," he said.

Mr. Sidaung told the National that the current stocks of copra waiting at the wharf were produced within two months.

"This production of 1,600 tons was mostly produced by the small copra growers in Central Bougainville," he added.

Mr. Sidaung, who was a former agriculturist with the Department of Agriculture and Livestock, was pleasantly surprised at the amount of copra produced in such a short period of time.

He praised the growers for their hard work.

"The production quality so far is very high."

Mr. Sidaung said he expects copra production in Central Bougainville to surpass a figure of 1,600 tons in less than one month.

"The boost in the production is expected to come from copra growers, who are yet to start producing."

Mr. Sidaung said his company is also looking at the long-term possibility of engaging in buying and exporting cocoa from the farmers.

Currently, an East New Britain based company, Agmark, is buying cocoa from parts of the island.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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