TRADING OF COPRA STARTS IN KAVIENG, BOOSTS ISLANDERS

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (September 13, 2002 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---Papua New Guinea's Coconut Products Limited started buying copra in Kavieng this week, giving a new lease of life to New Ireland's copra industry.

The company, based in Rabaul on neighboring New Britain Island, is working in consultation with Kokonas Indastri Koporesen.

The involvement of Coconut Products is reported to be an interim arrangement until Kokonas Indastri Koporesen and other copra buyers in New Ireland are ready to do business.

This is seen as a big relief for producers.

Papua New Guinea is the biggest producer of copra in the South Pacific, with many villagers -- especially in island provinces like New Ireland – relying on copra for income.

But they have been faced with an uncertain future after the former Copra Marketing Board and its successor, Kokonas Indastri Koporesen, faced cash flow problems.

A reporter who visited the former Copra Marketing Board depot in Kavieng witnessed the initial buying activities by Coconut Products Limited.

He said it was "business as usual" as producers went through the process of weighing their copra and getting paid for it.

It was learned that most of the copra sold to Coconut Products was stockpiled after news circulated that Kokonas Indastri Koporesen did not have money to pay.

Coconut Products general manager Paul Jameson confirmed that the company has started buying from producers using former Copra Marketing Board facilities.

Mr. Jameson assured growers that any checks they received for their copra would be as good as cash.

"They should not have any problems cashing them both at commercial banks and business houses in Kavieng," Mr. Jameson said.

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

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

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