Economics

What Is Copra Used For, And How Is It Made?

Dried coconut meat (copra) is squeezed to yield coconut oil, with the byproducts themselves finding many additional uses.

5. Uses of Copra and its Byproducts

Copra is the processed, dried kernel of coconut utilized in the extraction of coconut oil. Copra is utilized for a variety of purposes. It is used as food as it an important source of nutrients including proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Hot pressing of the copra yields low-melting oil having a melting point of 23° C° which can be used in cooking and as a raw material for preparing hair oils, shampoos, detergents, margarine, etc. The residual material, known as coconut cake, is a valuable concentrated feed for livestock. One coconut palm nut can yield around 80-500 g of copra.

4. Leading Producers

The coconut palm is a commercially beneficial plant in the tropical countries due to the possibility of using multiple parts of the tree for commercial purposes. The South East Asian countries of Indonesia and Philippines are the leaders in copra production and export. Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, and some other tropical Pacific islands also produce copra. Malaysia and Mozambique also grow coconut palms yielding copra. Brazil, India, and Sri Lanka are also major copra producers.

3. Production and Processing

#3 Production and Processing

The coconut palm is more often grown by smallholders in their private fields while large plantations of coconut palms also exist. The coconut nuts are broken open, the water drained out, and the kernel left to dry. Sun drying, kiln drying, etc., are some of the methods employed to dry the kernels. The kernel is then crushed to extract oil which is then utilized for various purposes while the byproduct is harnessed in supplying fodder for livestock.

2. Historical and Cultural Significance

#2 Historical and Cultural Significance

Across Asia and in India particularly a whole coconut, sometimes copra slices, are also used for religious purposes. All religious ceremonies in Hinduism begin with the proposal of whole coconut, copra or the coconut water to the deity Ganesha, who helps in the successful completion of any work. Any serious business should begin with the ceremony of breaking a coconut. Coconut’s firm copra and its thick outer layer are symbols of hard work and the concomitant success. The sacrificial meanings of coconut copra in ancient history ascend to the Hindu Sage Vishvamitra, who first introduced the nut to the pre-historic people as a means to improve eyesight and general health.

1. Market Regulations

Copra, more specifically the coconut oil extracted from copra, has a global market. In 2002, 1822 million metric tons of coconut oil was exported from copra producing nations of the world. The small, Pacific Islands often suffer dominance by the large-scale producers of copra like Philippines, Indonesia, and others. The European Union helps these isolated island countries by a preferential tariff system, boosting exports from these countries. Coconut oil exports are also facing intense competition from other, cheaper plant oil sources like the palm oil. Coconut farmers across the world are thus seeking for intervention on the part of their governments to receive subsidies in the price coconut oil to offer the product at more lucrative prices in the world market. There is also a need of technological improvements in the copra plantations to improve copra yields.

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