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Economics Of Coconut Based Farming Systems

Economic evaluation of some of the promising coconut based farming system models was carried out at CPCRI with the 1988-89 factor-product costs to show the potential for resource maximization and enhancing net return from lands planted to coconut by adoption of farming systems approach. Feasibility studies under rainfed coconut gardens involving di fferent crop species and varieties as intercrops revealed that the tubers and rhizomatous crops were relatively more remunerative components in the systems than that of cereals, pulses and oilseeds. The economi c potential i n terms of net prof i t in the case of coconut + amorphophallus system was worked out as US S 1160 /ha/year and in the case of coconut  ginger system it was US i 896 /ha/year, while coconut monocrop under similar situation gave a net return of US $ 319. Among several feasible combinations under irrigated coconut gardens, one of the most successful systems was the integration of black pepper, pineapple and cocoa with adult coconut palms of over 20 years age. This multistorey system generated a net return of US $ 1895 /ha/year, as against US $ 1450 in the case of irrigated coconut monocrop raised under similar si tuation.

In the mixed farming model where some of the plant species including fodder grass along with milch cattle and rabbits were integrated with 60-70 years old coconut palms, it was observed that the net return from 1 ha system could be of the order of US $ 1821 per year, while pure stand of irrigated coconut grove yielded a net return of US $ 1450. When the return to family labour, management and internal resources was considered, this mixed farming system was found to be an ideal model for the selfreliant smallholder because of its high turnover (US $ 3102) and resources use efficiency. These systems smoothed out the peaks and valleys of labour demand which could be considered a positive factor for the smallholder environment. Two most important contributing factors for the better performance of the farming systems were nutrient cycling and biological complementarity that came from associated cropping. Yet, the reasons underlying small holder's choices of crops and systems rest in socio-economic conditions and constraints often unrelated to research institute's site situations. Future emphasis should therefore be on on-farm testing of farming system models through out-reach programmes and institutional incentives to form a basis for tailoring technologies, regional planning and policy formulations. A successful transfer of these technologies however would go a long way toward a sustainable and self-reliant agricultue.

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