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Welcome change for coconut growers

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COOL AND TENDER: The stigma against harvesting of tender coconuts is waning in Kerala.
COOL AND TENDER: The stigma against harvesting of tender coconuts is waning in Kerala.

Special Correspondent

An increase in the price of coconut oil is reflected in better prices for tender coconut sold by farmers.

KOCHI: The price of coconut fluctuates on the basis of demand for coconut oil. The decline of prices during the peak production season is a common phenomenon in the coconut sector.

However, in the current year, there has been a reversal of the normal trend, says Ms Minnie Mathew, chairperson of the Kochi-based Coconut Development Board.

The peak production season has actually seen an increase in prices, she says. Starting at Rs.5,300 per quintal in January 2008, the price of coconut oil has touched Rs.6,300 now.

It is also pertinent that this price is the highest recorded after January 2005.

The increase in the price of coconut oil is reflected in better prices for coconut and still more attractive prices for tender coconut sold by the farmers.

What is particularly gratifying is the fact that the prices have been comparatively good even when coconut production in the country recorded the highest ever production of 14.81 billion nuts showing an increase of 15.42 per cent over the production in 2004-05.

This welcome change has been triggered by a variety of factors including the global increase in the prices of edible oils, conversion of agricultural land for production of bio-fuels and the consequent diversion of palm oil for bio-fuel purposes.

The stigma against harvesting of tender coconut has also receded in States such as Kerala.

The increased harvest and consumption of tender nuts have also, therefore, played an important role in stabilising the prices of coconut and coconut oil.

On the export front, there has been a healthy growth particularly in the export of shell charcoal and activated carbon.

In 2007-08, export of coconut based activated carbon to the tune of Rs.110 crores has been reported by seven manufacturing units, out of which six units have been assisted by the Coconut Development Board under Technology Mission on Coconut.

Other factors which have contributed to a resurgence in the coconut sector is the ban on import of palm oil through the ports of Kerala and also the removal of the restriction on the export of coconut oil from the country.

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