Special Correspondent

KOZHIKODE: The National Agricultural Co-operative Marketing Federation (Nafed) is ready to intervene in the market to give a higher price to growers for copra than the market rate.

Nafed, nodal agency authorised by the Central Government to extend support price for copra, has received the necessary clearance from the Central Government for its programme this year. The order was received on Wednesday.

Nafed sources said on Wednesday that Kerafed, which is the State Government agency to effect copra procurement, had been informed that it was ready to support the procurement process.

Nafed officials pointed out the market price of the commodity had fallen below what was offered to coconut growers under the Central Government's price support scheme.

While the Central price support for copra available through Nafed was Rs.3,590 per quintal, copra prices stood at Rs.3,250 per quintal in the market on Wednesday.

This created the right condition for the State Government to activate Kerafed to enable coconut growers get a higher price than what they would get in open market.

Kerafed procured copra through primary cooperatives. Nafed sources said the market price of copra was likely to decline further because of the recent concessions offered by the Central Government.

The Central Government was also likely to raise the support price for copra. The present support price was announced last year. An announcement of the revised support price was expected shortly.

Nafed had enough funds to support the procurement process until the open market price reached the level of the support price. Last year, nearly 4,000 tonnes of the commodity was procured through Kerafed.

However, doubts have been raised about the effectiveness of copra procurement as a means of ensuring higher returns to coconut growers.

P.A. Jaiprakash, district general secretary of the Kerala Congress(M), said that steps should to be taken to ensure that the procurement was made directly from the growers if the support price scheme were to yield the intended benefit.