Chief Minister Oommen Chandy launched the de-husked fresh coconut procurement scheme of the State government at Karunagapally near here on Tuesday.
The scheme is being implemented jointly by the Agriculture Department and the Kerafed. The procurement will be made through the Krishi Bhavans.
In his inaugural address, Mr Chandy said the State government had submitted a plea to the Union government to include coconut oil too in the edible oil subsidy scheme of the Centre. At present, palm oil enjoyed subsidy and if the same was extended to coconut oil, the demand for it would increase and that in turn would benefit coconut farmers.
The Chief Minister said the government had decided launching the procurement scheme when it was felt that the Central government’s copra procurement scheme, through National Agricultural Marketing Federation of India Limited (Nafed) at the rate of Rs. 51,000 a quintal, was not benefitting the coconut farmers of the State because they lacked drying facilities to convert fresh coconuts into copra.
The coconuts to be procured now would be dried into copra by the Kerafed and used by its oil production units. Excess copra would be sold to the Nafed. Mr. Chandy said the State government had also requested the Centre to hike the copra procurement price fixed by Nafed.
Mr. Chandy called upon all concerned to ensure the success of the new procurement scheme through which de-husked fresh coconut was being procured at the rate of Rs. 14 a kilo gram.
Minister for Agriculture K.P. Mohanan, who presided over the function, said the government was keen that the scheme progresses without any complaints. The procurement would be made through all the 634 Krishi Bnavans of the State.
At the function, K.R. Jyothilal, secretary of the Agriculture Department, welcomed the gathering. Union Ministers K.C. Venugopal and Kodikunnil Suresh, former minister C. Divakaran MLA and P.K. Gurudasan MLA spoke. Principal Agriculture Secretary (Kollam) C.O. Hemalatha proposed the vote of thanks.