31 Oct 2011

Poor shipping service cripples Marshalls copra industry

5:07 am on 31 October 2011

Poor shipping services in the Marshall Islands have resulted in less copra being processed, contributing to the worst return since 2002.

Copra is extracted from dried coconut, and one of the main sources of income for people living in the outer islands.

Three years ago 7,000 tonnes of copra was processed and milled in the capital Majuro, but the figure has now dropped to just over 4,000 tonnes.

Our correspondent Giff Johnson says the decline is a result of aging shipping fleets and maintenance problems.

"The shipping company has been calling on the government to provide money for dry docking and heavy maintenance and that money just hasn't been forthcoming the last couple of years."

Giff Johnson says a slight improvement is expected in the next few months.

He says the government has realised how dire the situation is and is starting to fund the maintenance of the ships.