Higher price to bring cheer to coconut farmers in Kerala

Written by M Sarita Varma | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: Apr 24 2014, 09:32am hrs
The Kerala government has given a boost to farmers by procuring raw coconuts at a price of R32 per nut as against the earlier rate of R30.

Following the surge in coconut oil price and increased production of coconuts, the state was pressed to pep up the procurement price and keep up the incentivisation measures for coconut farmers.

The procurement operation will get going from Wednesday, sources in Kerafed said. Kerafed is the apex body of a federation of coconut-farming co-operatives in the state.

The price of coconut has risen from R18 per nut in 2013 to R28. Farmers in Thrissur, Palakkad and Alapuzha are actively utilising the raw coconut procurement programme, Kerafed managing director Ashok Kumar Thekkan told FE.

However, there has been dip in output from North Kerala districts like Malappuram. From 1,600 tonne of dehusked coconut per day, the procurement has come down to 400 tonne per day. Coconut oil price in Kerala has reached an unprecedented high, selling at R15,300 per quintal at terminal markets. However, this is lower than the R15,475 per quintal price at the coconut oil production centre at Kangayam in Tamil Nadu. The recent surge in coconut and coconut oil production in Kerala has started reflecting in the availability and price.

Production loss in the three neighbouring states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh has also helped in keeping demand high in Kerala. "Consumption of coconut oil has gone up, especially in the Easter season. The bakery sector is a prominent consumer since the oil gives higher shelf life," a spokesman of Coconut Development Board said.

A recent bout of additional export of raw nuts to Pakistan by traders in Mumbai and the conversion of coconuts to other value-added products has caused a shortage of copra in Kerala, leading to rise in coconut oil prices, market sources said.

Meanwhile, coconut oil mills in Tamil Nadu and Kerala have been complaining of high raw material price hitting their production. Many of them have cut down production by as much as 50%.

For the farmer, who was complaining of having to pay R50 per tree as wages for coconut harvesting, price fortunes seem to have changed for the moment. Compared to last year, the farmer's margin has gone up from R3 to R10 when a single unhusked coconut changes hands.