Staff Reporter

KASARAGOD: Scientists at the Central Plantation Crops Research Institute (CPCRI), Kasaragod, have developed a low cost technology for the production of Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO), which will give a fillip to its production in the State.

The VCO, known for its therapeutic qualities, has great export potential as it is in demand in Europe and the U.S. It also attracts a premium price compared to ordinary coconut oil.

At a press conference at the CPCRI, director George V. Thomas said scientists would conduct further tests to perfect the technology before it could be utilised on a commercial scale.

Mr. Thomas said that further research in the project would be carried out under the National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP) of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR). The ICAR had recently sanctioned a project ‘Value Chain in Coconut Sector’ under the NAIP to the CPCRI.

The project estimated to cost Rs.422.72 lakh would be implemented in 2008-12.

Dr. Thomas said Australian technology was being used currently for the commercial production of virgin coconut oil. Oil production unit as per the current technology would cost more than Rs.25 lakh.

On the other hand, the cost of plants which utilised the technology being perfected by the CPCRI would be less than Rs.5 lakh, said Dr. Thomas. Apart from the development of technology, future efforts would aim at getting it branded organic, added Dr. Thomas. The Defence Research Laboratory, Mysore, and the Kerala Forest Research Institute would also partner the CPCRI in its project ‘Value Chain in Coconut Sector’.

Apart from the production of virgin oil, the other aims of the project included perfection of technology and invention of machines for the production of activated carbon, coconut chips and other value added products from coconut, said Dr. Thomas.

C. Thampan and K. Muraleedharan, senior scientists at the CPCRI also participated in the press conference.