M. Gunasekaran

Hands-on training will be given to coconut farmers and women
self-help groups

POLLACHI: The Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, has sanctioned a Rs. 10-lakh project on “Improved coconut post-harvest technologies” for empowering women of Pollachi region.

The Science and Technology Division of the Department accepted the proposal submitted by Dr. Mahalingam College of Engineering and Technology (MCET), here. The project will be carried out in Negamam village, near here, which is a major coconut growing area in the State.

According to Prof. C. Ramaswamy, secretary of MCET, the project will have two specific objectives.

First, production of copra hygienically from coconut and using an improved solar tunnel drying system and the second focus will be on production of natural vinegar from matured coconut water.

Dr. V.V. Sreenarayanan, Dean, Mechanical Sciences, will be the principal investigator while S. Ayyappan, senior lecturer, Mechanical Engineering Department, will be co-principal investigator. The duration of the project will be two years.

Failure

A number of coconut-based products has been developed in the coconut growing countries and India lags behind in the post-harvesting processing sector.

Failure of the coconut industry to diversify from its traditional sector is the major reason attributed to the slow pace of growth of Indian coconut industry, Prof. Ramaswamy says.

Solar tunnel dryer

The proposed solar tunnel dryer addresses the drawbacks of the sun-drying and produces good quality copra in shorter period of time. Once the infrastructure is created, it will be useful during the monsoon period to continue production, he says.

Mr. Sreenarayanan says that coconut water was being wasted now and could be used to produce natural vinegar for pickle industry by subjecting to fermentation and other processes.

Natural vinegar could fetch a premium price. It also has the potential for exports replacing synthetic ones. He says that hands-on training will be given to coconut farmers, women self-help groups and entrepreneurs on these two improved coconut technologies for production, developing a brand and marketing the products.

Higher price

Prof. Ramaswamy says that coconut oil manufacturers could get higher price once the quality of oil is improved. Clean processes and technological advancements alone will enhance the quality.

Creating awareness among workers, particularly women, will be given more thrust. It was because of the background of the faculty and content of the proposal, the self-finace college got the sanction, he adds.

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