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HONOLULU (Pacific Islands Report, Oct. 11) – The southern atolls of Kiribati are reportedly experiencing a drought that could harm the country’s copra industry.

According to Pacific Magazine, reports from the Meteorological Station confirmed that the situation would be critical if the drought continues.

The outer islands' main sources of income—coconut trees—have been severely affected.

Kiribati comprises three groups of coral atolls in the west central Pacific Ocean—the 16 Gilbert Islands, the 8 uninhabited Phoenix Islands, 8 of the 11 Line Islands, and the volcanic island of Banaba.

Kiribati declared a national crisis due to severe drought in 1999 and the government stated at the time that almost US$1 million would be spent on desalinization equipment to convert seawater into freshwater as a short-term measure.

Pacific Magazine reports that Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Cooperative officer Awaki Baare indicated copra trading has dropped tremendously from the southern islands.

According to the article, copra cutters face losing their sole source of income. Among those affected would be the Kiribati Copra Society, which exports copra abroad, the Kiribati Copra Mill, which manufactures coconut by-products, and shipping companies.

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