Kinfra, coconut board to jointly develop industrial park

Written by Commodities Bureau | Kochi, Oct 28 | Updated: Oct 29 2008, 08:10am hrs
Kerala Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Kinfra) and Coconut Development Board (CDB) propose to jointly develop an industrial park in Thrissur to facilitate value addition in coconut.

The park is expected to bring farmers, processors, and retailers together to link agricultural production to the market.

Kerala produces nearly 6 billion nuts per annum, but coconut farmers of the state find farming unsustainable. The price of coconut is linked to the market of coconut oil, which faces stiff competition from cheaper edible oils.

Despite several handicaps, the coconut sector remains a potential one in the commercial arena. Kinfra sources said that value addition and effective marketing of coconut-based products could provide support to the sagging fortunes of the sector. Several avenues for value addition have been identified, but initiatives in these areas have yet to get desired results.

The proposed 'Kera (coconut) Park' would be a well-defined processing and value addition zone, containing state-of-the-art processing facilities with support infrastructure and well-established supply chain. The primary objective of the project is to facilitate establishment of an integrated value chain that will put to full commercial use all parts of the coconut tree, thus ensuring the zero wastage concept and enabling farmers to realise better earnings.

Farmers would be organised into various clusters, with all the clusters in turn forming a 'special purpose vehicle', which will co-ordinate exclusive coconut farming for the industries in the Kera Park. It will also be engaged in primary processing.

A separate 'special purpose vehicle' that includes potential investors as well as farmer's clusters would manage the park. Setting up processing units for edible and non-edible products and common facility centres would be a priority, sources said.

It is hoped that the endeavour would help bringing in higher investment in the sector, and bring quantum jump in exports through value addition and opening up of new markets. The proposed project, to be developed in the public-private participation model, is expected to be completed in three years, sources said.