Dengue ban slows copra production

A loader moves copra cake into a warehouse at the Tobolar Copra Processing Authority in Majuro. Photo: Hilary Hosia.

Copra production in the RMI was solid but not spectacular for the calendar year 2019, according to statistics released by Tobolar Copra Processing Authority this week.

A total of 5,676.61 tons was brought into Tobolar from January through December last year. That means that with the copra price at 50 cents per pound, $5,676,610 was paid to copra makers in 2019. Virtually all of that money went to people on the outer islands except for $302,850 earned by Majuro copra makers.

The halt of outer islands travel to prevent the spread of dengue fever, which began in late August, took its toll on copra tonnage getting to Tobolar.

Tobolar saw one of its lowest monthly tonnage totals ever in October, with only 24.39 tons getting to the Delap mill — virtually all of it from Majuro copra makers.

The April to June period was one of Tobolar’s best quarters ever, with 2,083.41 tons delivered. But it could only muster 1,000.1 tons the last quarter of the year, while the month of September showed its second-lowest monthly total for the year, indicating the impact of the travel ban on movement of copra in late 2019.
Despite the challenge of the travel ban, the 5,676.61 tons was nothing closes to a “bad” year. This tonnage for 2019 was close to the 5,837 ton annual average for the 2010-2019 decade.

It’s no surprise that Arno led all producers with 1,056.45 tons. Mili outdid perennial number two Ailinglaplap to come in behind Arno with 798.73 tons. Ailinglaplap — which did not have a copra pickup visit the last four months of 2019 — came in third with 582.57 tons.

The top 10 copra producing islands for 2019 are listed below with the tonnage generated:
Arno, 1,056.45
Mili, 798.73
Ailinglaplap, 582.57
Namu, 531.84
Jaluit, 443.5
Maloelap, 309.26
Majuro, 302.85
Ebon, 280.0
Namdrik, 248.46
Aur, 202.13

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