In its January monthly Economic Bulletin, the Central Bank of Solomon Islands has reported that the international price for copra has strengthened following strong growth in the international market.

It says that prices for January 2011 had increased by 17.3 percent, from $1,154 US dollars per tonne to an unprecedented high of $1,354 US dollars per tonne.

It also reported that average contracted export prices rose from 1.7 percent from 750 US dollars per tonne to 763 US dollars per tonne for the month of January.

The bulletin says domestic prices also increased by 27.3 percent, from SBD$5.50 to SBD$7 per kilogram, another unprecedented peak price.

It says this represents a threefold increase against the domestic price for copra twelve months back.

"The high demand in the international market is really the main driving factor why there is now a high price of copra," said an economist at the CBSI.

"We expect that the high price of copra would continue at least well into the second quarter of this year, which of course benefit our farmers and their families."

According to the CBSI economist, the high price of copra could be attributed to the high demand not only from its regular market but even the so-called non-traditional market.

It is understood that copra from the Solomon Islands is not only being sold to the United States and European countries but to new markets like Thailand, Singapore, Australia and China.

The Solomon Islands has more than 45,000 coconut farmers which produces more than 2 million nuts a year.

The economist says that aside from copra, the coconut industry needs to look at other coconut by-products who now enjoy a good market.