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Strategies For Enhancing Productivity And Income Of Coconut Farmers In India

Coconut palm, a perennial tree crop has profound influence on the socio-economic prosperity of multitude of coconut farmers in 93 coconut growing countries in the world. In India, it symbolizes the cultural heritage and social one-ness. Coconut is an important food crop for the major segment of Indian population. It is an important cash crop for more than 10 million farm families and a fibre-yielding crop for more than 15,000 coir based industries which provides employment opportunities to more than 5.86 lakhs labours of which 80 per cent are women. The industry also helps to earn foreign exchange to the tune o f Rs.4000 million and contributes significantly to country’s GDP. There are about 5 million coconut holdings of which 98 per cent are less than 1  ha. India could make appreciable achievements in the growth of the industry through the Research and Development. India which accounts for 22.34 per cent of the world’s coconut production, is one of the largest players in the world’s coconut trade. Currently the crop is grown in 1.89 million ha with the annual production of nearly 13000 million nuts. Though India ranks number one in productivity at the global level, with 6777 nuts per ha, the productivity varies considerably from state to state and garden to garden indicating the potential scope for increasing the productivity through appropriate productivity improvement measures. The productivity ranges from 5000 to 19000 nuts per ha among different states. It has been amply proved that integrated farm activities like uprooting of unproductive senile and diseased advanced palms and subsequent replacement with quality seedlings, adoption of scientific management practices and intensive multiple cropping with high value compatible crops could increase the productivity to a substantial level. The mono cropped holdings would necessarily be converted into farming system models of different crop combinations for improving the productivity of holdings and for enhancing the rate of returns from the unit area Indian Coconut industry, till recently, was confined to the traditional activities of oil extraction and manufacture of coir products. Hence the domestic coconut market is influenced by the price behaviour of coconut oil and hence the price of coconut oil determines the price of coconut and its products and the dependency results market instability. However, in the recent past, due attention has been bestowed in technology development for product diversification and by-product utilization of coconut as the mechanism to stabilize the domestic market. Coconut Development Board has taken the major strides in this area. The production and marketing of value added products have started attracting commercial interest and the situation brought out rejuvenation in the sector. Prices for coconut products have started showing an upward trend. The market promotional measures undertaken in pursuit of the popularisation of health benefits of coconut oil and tender coconut water have attributed a stimulating effect on the less dependency of coconut oil market driven coconut economy. Considering the coconut situation in the country, the development strategy for enhancing productivity and income of farmers was streamlined encompassing programmes aimed at Intensive production system through farming system models, through enhancing  demand for coconut products by diversifying uses of coconut and other products, popularising coconut products in the non traditional and non-producing parts of the country, developing a viable marketing mechanism for various coconut products including tender coconut, creating awareness on health benefits of coconut, strengthening of  market intelligence to tap the domestic and export market, etc.

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