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Updated: September 9, 2012 03:58 IST

As tough as coconut

Jabir Mushthari
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A brochure of the ‘Keralam Elaneer’
company.
A brochure of the ‘Keralam Elaneer’ company.

Coconut farmers form a company to make and sell value-added products.

For them, it was not a tough nut to crack. When farmers across the State have been depressed by the falling price of coconut, they decided to strike it out on their own and form a company to make and sell value-added products from the same nuts that have brought misery.

“Keralam Elaneer” was thus born in 2010, out of the courage of a small group of farmers, led by a few entrepreneurs, from the Malabar region. It was their conviction that coconut will not let them down if they understand the market.

They studied the depth of the crisis and began to explore ways to get out of the mess, registering Kerala Lakshadweep Mahe Elaneer Producer Company Ltd. — “Keralam Elaneer” — as a company in June 2010. Its aim is to help the farmers who are having a tough time.

The company initially had five directors and a few coconut farmers as its members. After two years, over 1,200 farmers have come under it. Its dreams too have got bigger.

“It was a move from a conviction that strikes and dharnas are not going to help us any longer,” P. Premanandan, chairman of the company, says. “We are a group of people who realised that it is time to stop crying and to act jointly to save the coconut farmers and thereby the economy of our State.”

The firm, he says, has bought 1.2 hectare of land at Parappan Poyil, near Thamarassery, in the district, where it is planning to set up a complete coconut complex to house a variety of small units to produce value-added coconut products.

Agriculture Minister K.P. Mohanan laid the foundation stone for the complex on Saturday. The company plans to produce and market a variety of products made from coconut procured from the member farmers. “Coconut will be procured at the highest price in the market,” Abdul Aseez, its chief executive officer, says.

A series of products starting with tender coconut water (“Elaneer”) and coconut milk will be marketed by the company. The first product will hit the shelves in January. The product mix will slowly expand to coconut cream, chips, virgin oil and vinegar and those made from coconut husk and shell, such as carry bags, carpet, mat, purse, geotextiles and other handicrafts.

Any farmer with at least 10 coconut trees can join the collective by buying a share in the company at Rs. 1,000. “The members will have several benefits, such as dividends, employment opportunities in the manufacturing units and higher prices for coconut from their groves,” Mr. Aseez says.

The company plans to intervene in the market and ensure a steadily increasing price for coconut.

“Our aim is to ensure at least Rs. 15 for 1 kg of coconut, which is, at present, below Rs. 5 a kg,” Mr. Aseez says.

Keywords: Keralam Elaneer

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