COPRA PRODUCTION PROBLEMS PREDICTED TO CONTINUE IN FIJI

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (November 27, 2000 - Fiji's Daily Post/PINA Nius Online)---Copra production in Fiji dropped from 13,945 to 10,785 tons in September compared to the same period last year, the Coconut Industry Development Authority has announced.

The 26 percent drop was mainly attributed to the fall in copra prices, plummeting from F$ 495.61 (US$ 216.88) to F$ 283.38 (US$ 124.00) per ton in November, although the May19 coup and subsequent events also had some effect in diverting farmers from normal activities.

"After the May 19 incident, things were beginning to normalize but the November 2 army mutiny has meant renewed instability to the coconut industry," the authority said.

Requests for an increase in the copra price from F$ 300 to F$ 400 (US$ 131.28 to US$ 175.04) a ton was submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture on September 26 and the Coconut Industry Development Authority is still waiting for a decision.

Meanwhile, former Permanent Secretary for Agriculture John Teiwa has been appointed the authority's chief executive.

Former Minister for Health Leo Smith is helping revitalize the Fiji Coconuts Processors Association at Savusavu and has encouraged copra producers to buy Copra Millers Fiji Limited shares.

On the global scene, the price of coconut oil has dropped and is set to continue spiraling as a bumper Philippines crop and an abundance of alternative cheaper oils have led supply to surge ahead of demand.

"Apart from the fact that the availability of cheaper oils is leading to processors switching to alternative products, a huge Philippines coconut crop is expected this year, which is further affecting prices.

"Coconut oil demand in Europe and the U.S., the largest markets for the commodity, has been badly hit by the availability of palm kernel oil, which can be bought at a F$ 20 (US$ 8.75) per ton discount."

For additional reports from Fiji’s Daily Post, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/Fijilive.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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