Staff Reporter

“Weather, soil and water resources in State ideal for cocoa cultivation”

COIMBATORE: The weather, soil and water resources of the State are ideal for cocoa cultivation and coconut farmers, who cultivate on 3.57 lakh hectares, could raise cocoa as an inter-crop, Agriculture Minister Veerapandi S. Arumugam said here on Friday.

Inaugurating a national seminar on cocoa, he wished more farmers got involved in cocoa cultivation. “Only 500 hectares is under cocoa cultivation in the State. Though many areas are suitable, they are not being tapped. There is good commercial viability because the consumption of cocoa in the world has increased by 131 per cent.

“Cocoa is being cultivated as a commercial crop and used as a beverage even ahead of coffee and tea at the global level. Though cocoa entered India only in 1970, we have come a long way. In 1991 India was able to export cocoa products worth $65 million,” the Minister said.

Under the National Horticultural Mission, farmers were being encouraged to take up cocoa farming. In 2007-08, 1,947 hectares was used for cocoa cultivation at a cost of Rs.109 lakh. In 2008-09 it was planned to cover 6,000 hectares at a cost of Rs.337 lakh.

He mentioned the memorandum of understanding the State government had entered into with Cadbury India Limited recently to give a boost to cocoa cultivation.

On horticultural crops, the Minister said in 2007-08, 174 lakh tonnes of crops were harvested from 10 lakh hectares in the State. In 2008-09 it was estimated to harvest 190 lakh tonnes from 11 lakh hectares.

Surjit K. Chaudhary, Agriculture Production Commissioner and Principal Secretary, Agriculture Department, said cocoa cultivation in the State had picked up after signing the MoU with Cadbury India Limited.

“Scientific agricultural methods are required for particular crops to enable better yield. Two programmes — System of Rice Intensification for paddy cultivation, and precision farming — should reach small farmers. They should be made to understand what scientific management can do to crops,” he said.

Venkatesh N. Hubballi, Director of Cashewnut and Cocoa Development, Union Ministry of Agriculture, and Chandra Mohan B, Director of Horticulture and Plantation Crops, Government of Tamil Nadu, spoke.

The seminar was organised by Directorate of Cashewnut and Cocoa, Union Ministry of Agriculture, State Department of Horticulture and Plantation Crops, and the Tamil Nadu Horticulture Development Agency.