Under pilot project to help coconut growers
PATHANAMTHITTA: Kerafed, or Kerala Kera Karshaka Sahakarana Federation Ltd. (coconut growers’ cooperative federation), is making hectic efforts to help out coconut growers in the State who have been badly hit by the ongoing crisis in the State’s farming sector, M. Sukumara Pillai, Kerafed Chairman, says.
He told The Hindu that 1.5-crore aged and disease-hit coconut trees would be felled in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Thrissur district under the pilot project of a Centrally sponsored scheme.
He said the government would promote planting of better breed of coconut saplings in the three districts to enhance coconut production. Farmers would get Rs.500 on every coconut tree felled and Rs.20 for planting a sapling as part of the scheme.
Mr. Pillai said Kerafed was exploring the possibility of setting up a modern mill for processing the wood of uprooted coconut palms and converting it into value-added products. He said Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac had offered assistance to Kerafed on this.
Kerafed was planning to set up the mill on 2 hectares of its land at Attingal and modern machinery and technology for palm wood would be imported in consultation with the Technology Mission of the Coconut Development Board. The proposed project would be implemented in collaboration with the Coconut Development Board.
Mr. Pillai said every part of the coconut tree, including its crown, could be utilised for productive use. What was needed was a proper awareness among people of its various utility aspects.
He said use of treated palm wood and its value-added byproducts had been widely used in countries such as the Philippines. Kerala, where coconut was identified as the main crop, should follow the Filipino model, especially in the wake of the Free Trade Agreement signed by the Union government with ASEAN countries, he said.
He said palm wood had to be subjected to chemical treatment to ensure its durability and strength. Kerafed was planning to adopt certain outsourcing methods in the marketing of the treated wood.
He said the treated wood could be used as panel boards, furniture, flooring materials and so on. The crown of uprooted palm trees could be used in biogas plants.
Mr. Pillai said the government should come forward to provide subsidy to indigenously developed palm wood products.