The Coconut Development Board (CDB) has urged the Union government to include tender coconut water in the noon-meal scheme.

If the government gave permission, it would give a boost to the ailing coconut sector, apart from contributing to the nutritional requirements of schoolchildren, CDB chairman C.V. Ananda Bose told The Hindu.

The board had embarked on several new projects to market coconut products among the new generation. Efforts would be made to project tender coconut water as a drink of the ‘gen-next.' The board had adopted SRV School in Kochi under its new initiative to spread awareness on coconut and its products among schoolchildren, he said.

Tender coconut water had been acknowledged as a natural health drink by well-known research institutes, he said. The consumption of the product among the younger generation was on the rise, Mr. Bose said. The CDB had recently introduced refrigerated push carts for sale of tender coconut water in railway stations and similar areas with potential for consumption of the product, he said.

The board was trying to dispel misinformation on the use of coconut oil through different mass contact programmes. Studies had been conducted by institutions such as National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, Sree Chitra Institute of Medical Sciences, Thiruvananthapuram, and Kerala University on the health benefits derived from the use of coconut oil and other products. Virgin coconut oil had been well received in the market, he said.

Mr. Bose, who is also the Managing Director of National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Limited (Nafed), said the CDB's tie-up with Nafed had provided a new opportunity for marketing coconut-based products through the outlets of the latter.

The CDB-Nafed tie-up would be of immense help to entrepreneurial groups which were involved in making coconut products and not being able to market them successfully through own resources. The products would also be marketed through the stores run by Supplyco and Marketfed, he said.

Mr. Bose said the board was focusing on dwarf varieties of coconut palms as part of its rejuvenation scheme. The farmers were given aid for re-plantation under the scheme. The board had been facing problems in getting enough saplings to meet the demand. The services of private nurseries were also being utilised for the programme as farm research institutions in the public sector had not been able to supply the required number of saplings, he said.

A programme to link the research institutions to the CDB was under the consideration of the Union government. It would facilitate integration of technologies, a much required step for improvement in farming sector, according to him.