The Cabinet on Wednesday approved a scheme prepared by the Agriculture Department for coconut procurement in the State.

Coconut will be procured at Rs.14 a kg through Krishi Bhavans and processed at 20 centres, including 14 farms of the department. Agro-markets set up under assistance from the European Community and units of the Coconut Development Corporation will be among the procurement centres. They will use dryers to convert the procured coconuts into copra.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told the media that the Cabinet had sanctioned Rs.8 crore for the Rs.21-crore scheme. The balance would be adjusted from the budgetary allocations for the department.

The government decided to provide Rs.500 a quintal as subsidy to cooperatives, including producers’ societies and apex societies, procuring copra to improve copra procurement under a Central scheme.

The Centre was providing Rs.5,100 for every quintal of copra procured, but farmers were not fully benefiting from that. The subsidy had prompted more societies to start procurement and they had so far procured 14,000 tonnes. They were poised to procure 22,000 tonnes this year.

Mr. Chandy said the State government would request the Centre to increase the procurement price of copra at the earliest.

It would also seek a subsidy of Rs.15 a kg for coconut oil as was being provided for palmolein.

The Cabinet discussed the question of allowing coconut farmers to produce Neera.

A decision in this regard would be taken after discussions with toddy workers, who had reservations about the proposal.

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