Despite the impact of COVID-19 crisis, copra output has jumped from 8055 tons in 2019 to 11,678 tons in 2020 with Central Islands province leading the way in production.
The Central Bank of Solomon Islands (CBSI) December 2020 report says production by provinces showed Central province remained the major contributor with a share of 34 percent, followed by Western province 21 percent, Guadalcanal province 17 percent, and Choiseul with 14 percent. The four provinces made up a total share of 86 percent. Other provinces accounted for the remainder of 14 percent.
CBSI says the improvement in copra and coconut oil industries stemmed from rising export prices during the year which encouraged farmers to increase their production. This is also with the government’s support through the Economic Stimulus Package (ESP).
In June 2020, the government through the ESP Implementation Committee sets the minimum price of copra at $3 per kilogram. In a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Copra and Cocoa exporters, the government provided the price subsidy of $0.50kg of copra and the freight subsidy of $28 per bag. The subsidy program was initiated as part of the stimulus package to encourage local farmers to produce more copra and to benefit from the subsidy scheme.
In addition, in 2020 coconut oil international price rose to US$1,008 per ton from US$733 per ton, reflecting high demand in the global market.
Meanwhile speaking before the recent Public Accounts Committee (PAC), CBSI Governor, Dr. Luke Forau says apart from the copra, the bank has not seen any significant increase in other productive sectors from the ESP.
“At the moment we don’t have the figures from the responsible authorities. We are hoping that they will provide us with the numbers. In fact, that was our whole intention is to find out the impact. After All that was what we wanted to know. If the stimulus package has worked or not”, Forau says.
Forau says the impact assessment of the ESP will be very important and the CBSI is looking forward to receiving more information from the Ministry of Finance.