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Global Developments Affecting The Competitivenes Of The Coconut Industry In Marshall Islands

The Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) consists of 29 low-lying coral atolls and five islands spread over a sea area of over 750,000 square miles, in the Central Pacific. There are more than 1,200 islands and islets with a total dry land of 181 km2. Inhabited atolls and islands have a total area of 156 km2 or 15,600 hectares. The mean elevation is 2 meters above sea level, making them particularly vulnerable to sea level rise and the destructive forces of tropical storms. RMI has a resident population of 58,800 and around 66% resides in Majuro, the capital of the country.

Republic of Marshall Islands has an area of 8000 ha under coconut that spreads in all islands and atolls, and providing a major cash income for the rural people. 25.5 million nuts or 4865 MT of copra are produced annually, and presently used for making coconut oil. Coconut also forms a major domestic product, and earns an export value of US$ 772.518.

Tobolar Copra Processing Authority has started producing coco bio-fuel in the recent times. Tobolar has the capability to produce 8,500 gallons of coconut bio-fuel oil per day. Due to limitations of copra supply to 350 tons per month, Tobolar's coconut bio­ fuel production is limited to 60,000 gallons per month and 720,000 gallons per year. At present, Tobolar is operating only at 30% of its capacity due to limitations of copra supply.

The productivity of coconut is very low due to over, crowding improper management; improper collection of fallen matured nuts. Copra by conventional method is the only product made till recently. Husk and coconut shells are not utilized properly. The Government of the Marshall Islands is keen to develop the country's coconut resources. Hence, it became an APCC member in 2003.

Increasing productivity, by adopting proper thinning, replanting and under-planting whenever needed by removing senile and unproductive palms, and organic recycling; community processing for making copra, coconut oil, virgin coconut oil, extraction of coir fibre and composting coir pith and other farm waste for recycling; community nursery programmed for produce quality planting material for replanting; adopting integrated farming system of having pigs, a poultry, growing inter/multi/mixed cropping system; utilization of timber for housing materials and furniture; to provide income, food security poverty alleviation, employment opportunity as well as import substitution are being aimed at, and regional and international technical assistance is greatly sought after towards achieving these endeavors.

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