‘Coconut industry needs innovative post-harvest technology'
As traditional skills — that once made up the backbone of the coconut industry — disappear, it becomes inevitable that the industry looks towards innovative post-harvest tools and machines to do these jobs, Chief Coconut Development Officer of the Coconut Development Board (CDB) M. Thomas Mathew has said.
Be it a practical device to climb coconut trees, or the mechanisation of processes such as de-husking, post-harvest technologies will be made the focus of CDB's 12th five-year plan roadmap, he said at a national conference on the coconut industry on Thursday.
Wanted: viable device
The CDB, which is a statuary body under the Ministry of Agriculture, has recommended among other things, a “viable device for coconut palm climbing and harvesting” and the automation of preliminary processing such as breaking, de-husking and de-shelling.
“Climbing trees for instance is a highly specialised skill and one that is increasingly rare to find.
The devices that have been innovated so far do help unskilled people to climb, but the efficiency in harvesting still does not match up to traditional climbers,” Mr. Mathew said.
He added that Central Plantation Crops Research Institute (CPRI) and CBD were working along with institutes such as the Indian Institutes of Technology to come up with a suitable device.
The recommendations have also given a thrust to organic coconut farming and non-polluting processing to make the industry more ecologically sustainable. A special emphasis will be placed on bio-control agents against pests, composting and bio-fertilizers.
These methods, developed by the CPRI “should be promoted through large-scale demonstrations in various agro-ecological zones,” state the recommendations that were chalked out on day two of the conference.
In water-scarce areas drip irrigation and ‘fertigation' (a technique of supplying dissolved fertilizer to crops) to reduce water loss and the use of chemical fertilizers, has been recommended.