- Different kinds of palm trees. Titeir great value.
- Where found. by what peoples used.
- Commercial value. Copra.
- Future possibilities.
The coconut is the biggest of all nuts and is the product of the coconut palm which grows everywhere in the tropics but mostly near the sea. The rough, brown nut is easily distinguished from the drinking nut, which boys offer for sale in Karachi.
For a time, the businessmen of Europe over-looked the commercial value of this palm, and the oil was extracted mainly for soap-making. That is all changed now, and is the present the coco-nut stands very high in world trade. It is now cultivated on large plantations in the Pacific islands and in the tropical parts of Africa, Asia, and America. Many of those plantation are situated within the British Commonwealth.
Large sums must be expended before the plantations become profitable. This is due to the fact that the trees do not bear nuts until they are at least seven years of age. After having reached the “bearing” stage, however, the trees continue to yield nuts well-nigh a hundred years.
Vast quantities of coco-nuts are exported to all parts of the world. But the greater art of the world supply is shipped in the form of copra. This is the name given to the dried kernel. The nuts are split open with a heavy, sharp-edged knife, and the half-kernels are spread on grass mats to dry in the sun. Immense cargoes of copra are exported to the United States and Europe.
The imported copra is sent to mills, where the valuable oil is squeezed from it. This is used extensively in the manufacture of the best brands of margarine. Much of it is also used in the making of soap, candles, and specially prepared oil for cooking operations. The remains of the crushed copra make valuable fattening food for cattle. Thousands of tons of dedicated coco-nut are now used by confectioners in the preparation of cakes and other sweetmeats. Almost half of the world’s export of copra is furnished by the British Commonwealth. Ceylon figuring prominently int he output.
It is worthy of mention, too, that many useful articles are made form the stalk and husk of the nut. They comprise bags baskets, brushes, ropes and mats. Considerable cultivation of the coco-palm may be possible along the sea-coasts of the Indian peninsula, and West Pakistan, with great benefit to the people there, and to the national trade.