Copra is the dried meat, or kernel, of the coconut; the term is taken from the Malayalam language in turn from Old Tamil.
Coconut oil is traditionally extracted by grating or grinding copra, then boiling it in water. It was long used by Pacific island cultures and became a valuable commercial product for merchants in the South Seas and South Asia in the 1860s. Nowadays, the process of coconut oil extraction is done by crushing copra to produce coconut oil (70%); the by-product is known as copra cake or copra meal (30%). This 19th-century copra trading inspired Robert Louis Stevenson's 1893 novella The Beach of Falesá, based on his experiences in Samoa.
Making copra – removing the shell, breaking up, drying – is usually done where the coconut palms grow. While there are some large plantations with integrated operations, copra remains primarily a smallholder crop. The major producing country is the Philippines, which is the only large country in the world where coconut oil is the staple oil for cooking. It is also a major exporter. In former years copra was collected by traders going from island to island and port to port in the Pacific Ocean but South Pacific production is now much diminished, with the exception of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
Copra production begins with the coconut plantations. Coconut trees are generally spaced 9 m (30 ft) apart, allowing a density of 100-160 coconut trees per hectare. A standard tree bears around 50-80 nuts a year, and average earnings in Vanuatu (1999) were USD 0.20 per kg (one kg equals 8 nuts). , allowing approximately $1,600 USD to be earned yearly for each planted hectare.
In India, Tiptur in Tumkur District in Karnataka state is notable for its copra.
Coconut oil is extracted from dry copra using oil expellers. To get maximum amount of oil from the copra it has to be dried well. In houses people dry it in sunlight and for large scale production big driers are used. In Kerala, oil extraction is widely done as coconut oil is widely used in cooking and for certain medicines. The left-over material after oil extraction is called oil cake. Oil cake is used as animal feed.
As an animal feed
Copra meal is used as fodder for horses and cattle. Its high oil levels and protein are fattening for stock. The unique benefits of copra meal for horses and cattle have been researched by Dr T.J. Kempton. The protein in copra meal has been heat treated and provides a source of high quality protein for cattle, sheep and deer, because it does not break down in the rumen.
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