Drying copra in the sun was the low-cost, low-tech option but it had the disadvantage of producing copra of inconsistent quality. If there was little or no sun, the copra could ferment and be downgraded. Hot-air drying in a kiln under controlled conditions ensured consistent high quality and took uncertainty out of the process.
With the purchasing and planting of large tracts of land, the Germans brought scale and hands-on control to copra production, thereby allowing the establishment of a dedicated, export-oriented industry with a predictable annual output. Export volumes and trading profit could be forecast, within the bounds of a crop that was dependent on the vagaries of nature and a fluctuating international price. Godeffroys and the DH & PG purchased copra from growers, both settler and Samoan alike, but the flow from the latter could fluctuate significantly for a number of reasons. They needed to establish their own plantations to ensure a predictable flow of product and an industry that was worth investing in.
Credit: Tattersall, Alfred James, 1866-1951. Copra drying, Samoa. London Missionary Society – Photographs of the South Pacific. Ref: 1/2-092848-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23097636
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