Women were trained in production of nutritive food items from coconut

Low productivity and lack of remunerative price for commodity make small and marginal farmers struggle to meet both ends.

Price fluctuation of the produce neither provides them gainful employment nor generates sufficient income to sustain their basic needs.

“Though through processing and value addition, one can enhance the farm income. Enough technical support, suitable machineries and equipment for processing and value addition, working capital and marketing strategies are not readily available to them at the village level,” says Dr. George V. Thomas, Director, Central Plantation Crops Research Institute, Kasaragod.

Participatory approach

When these problems faced in the coconut production sector were discussed at the international level, the idea of adoption of integrated coconut based farming system and other subsidiary income generating enterprises by formation of Community Based Organizations (CBO) and implementation of interventions through farmer participatory approach mooted.

“This concept was tested and proven highly successful under the project on ‘Overcoming poverty in coconut-growing communities: Coconut genetic resources for sustainable livelihoods in India’, supported by International fund for agriculture development (IFAD) and Biodiversity International implemented by the Regional Station, Kayamkulam of the CPCRI.,” says Dr.V. Krishnakumar, Senior Scientist of the Insitute.

Three CBOs' were established and registered under Society’s Registration Act in three villages in Kerala. About100 beneficiary members are there in each of the CBOs’ and they served as the ideal vehicle for carrying out the interventions in the project sites.

Proper links

Effective linkages were established with Kerala Agricultural University, Vegetable and fruit promotion council Keralam, Central tuber crops research institute, Krishi vigyan kendras, Kerala state departments of agriculture, Animal husbandry and dairy development, and other credit institutions like banks for the successful implementation of interventions at various stages of the project.

The project allocated a total revolving fund of Rs. 1.5 lakhs to each of the CBO for carrying out the envisaged activities.

The borrowers were charged with an annual interest at 2 per cent to cover the operating costs.

The amount provided as micro credit was completely utilized by all the three CBOs’ and the repaid amount is also being utilized as a revolving fund.

Training programmes on various methods to increase farm outputs were also organized.

The CBO members, especially the women were trained on production of various high value products and nutritive food items from coconut and intercrops.

Marketing

A complete oil mill consisting of copra dryer, cutter, expeller and filter was installed at Pathiyoor. The coconut syrup had high demand during summer months as a health drink. The oil cake, which is the by product from oil production was utilized for local cattle feed production.

Two community coir spinning units were established at Thodiyoor, through which 40 women earned a profit of Rs.90-100 per day.

A copra dryer was also installed in the community and a group is engaged in copra production.

At Devikulangara, two motorized coir spinning units (Ratts) and two automatic double head coir spinning machines were supplied and the outturn of coir from the unit increased by 75 per cent. Other local nutritive food items like baby food branded as ‘Poshak’ and amla juice have high demand locally.

The coconut oil and cattle feed produced from oil cake are successfully being marketed.

Income

“The income from coconut increased by more than 50 per cent and the area of intercrops doubled over the pre-project period. The project enhanced the income levels from Rs.5,700 to Rs.13,100,” says Dr. Krishnakumar.

One of the most significant and noteworthy benefits of the project was the improvement in food and nutritional security of the family members, especially school- going children.

For more details readers can contact Dr.V. Krishnakumar, Senior Scientist(Agronomy), Central Plantation Crops Research Institute, Regional Station, Kayamkulam-690 533, phone: 0479-2442160 Extn.233, Mobile: 09447364877.