KPCC urged to call meet on coconut sector

The Kerala Karshaka Congress has launched an agitation demanding a better deal for coconut farmers in the State and the coconut sector as a whole, with a relay satyagraha being staged at Kuttiyadi in Kozhikode, known as the State’s coconut capital, from Thursday and another protest being held before the Secretariat on Friday.

According to Karshaka Congress president Lal Varghese Kalpakavadi, successive governments, including that of the UDF, had not given the deserving attention to this sector, which was why the prices of fresh coconuts had not changed much in the last 25-30 years.

The State had six Central Ministers, who along with the MPs from the State, should join hands with other coconut-producing States like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka to pressurise the Centre to initiate steps like banning import of palm oil at South Indian ports, hiking the import duty on the same in North Indian ports and also to lift export restrictions on coconut oil, he said.

Curbs on export

Pointing out that there was a 10,000-tonne limit clamped on export of coconut oil, Mr. Varghese said only branded packs, each of a maximum of five kg, were allowed. This was when there was a huge scope of penetration into the Gulf market, which had a large number of NRIs and which were presently being catered to by Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

Promoting coconut oil

The Karshaka Congress was also demanding extension of the Coconut Board’s activities into production, value addition, research and marketing as well, on the lines of the Spices Board and the Rubber Board. It also wanted the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee, which had met exclusively to discuss the endosulfan issue, to convene a meeting for the coconut sector as well.

Mr. Varghese said the possibilities of distribution of coconut oil through PDS, as well as use in the mid-day meal scheme should be discussed.