Coconut farmers, fighting a battle for survival, have little cause for cheer at the Union government’s decision on Thursday to permit export of coconut oil from ports across the country. The measure may bring some relief in terms of marketability, but the overall situation is far from comfortable for the farming community.

Earlier, the exports of coconut oil were permitted in packets of 5 litres from Kochi only.

The export of edible oils from the country had also been subjected to a maximum of 20,000 tonnes per year. Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) is also understood to have cleared a proposal submitted by Commerce Ministry to remove the ceiling on quantity.

Coconut oil market is reeling under pressure from palm oil which is being imported in large quantities. Coconut Development Board, coconut farmers and pro-farmer organizations have been demanding an increase in the import duty on palm oil, but the government has not yielded to the demand. Cochin Oil Merchants Association vice-president Prakash B.Rao expressed apprehensions as to whether the new move would be of considerable benefit to the farmers as well as merchants. The prices of coconut oil in the international market were lower than that of the commodity from India. While Philippines had been offering coconut oil at Rs.57 in the international market, the Indian coconut oil was being quoted at over Rs.70 per kg, he said.