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Policies, Programs And Experience In India: Improving Productivity Of Coconut Gardens Through Replanting And Rejuvenation

Coconut production in India has crossed the level of  21 billion nuts, surpassing the production level of  major global players, like Indonesia, Philippines and Sri Lanka. In India four  southern states contribute 90% of  country ’s area and production. The state of  Kerala is the premier state with 0.76 million ha contributing 6,211 million nuts (2011-12 statistics). The percentage contribution of  this state is 26.6 which was nearly 63% before 3 decades. Thus the production and productivity of  coconut in Kerala which had a greater bearing on the all India production Level is now getting depleted. Coconut is the main stay of  the people in the state with the entire fabric of  the rural economy is closely woven around coconut palm. The productivity of  Kerala is 8,109 nuts per ha which is less than the national average of  11,277 nuts per ha. Prevalence of  old, senile, unproductive and root wilt disease affected palms, are the major reasons for  low productivity of  the state. Root wilt is debilitating and results in gradual decline in productivity. To sustain productivity of  the palm better management practices including irrigation is the recommended package. Juvenile palms and highly disease advanced palms, do not respond to management practices. Therefore the strategy is to cut and remove old, senile and disease advanced palms. The 43rd Annual session of  APCC held in Papua New Guinea during 7-10 November, 2006 made a declaration to accelerate the Replanting Programme in coconut by the APCC member countries. The member countries including India made commitment on the occasion to initiate programme of  action in cognizance with government policies to implement the declaration within the next 5 years. In this background, Coconut Development Board formulated a project for  Replanting and Rejuvenation of coconut submitted to Government of  India and Government of  India announced the package. The project was officially declared in 2009-10 on Pilot scale for  covering an area of  0.135 million ha and started implementation in 3 selected districts of  Kerala, and in one Island where the intensity of  senile and unproductive palms is more. Subsequently the programme extended to all the remaining districts of  Kerala and is still continuing. Within a span o f  fiv e  years 2.32 million coconut trees were removed from  0.22 million ha and replanted 0.9 million seedlings. The Board had spent Rs. 2,360 million ($ 39.5 million) towards incentive to farmers. Now the impact of  the scheme is glaringly visible in the field. The productivity which was in a declining trend got freed  from  the diminishing trap and attained upward trend from  2010-11 and is still continuing. This is clearly attributed to the impact of  the programme which was focused  on disease eradication and productivity improvement. Rapid establishment of  coconut nurseries using local varieties and hybrids and establishment of  coconut farms/plantations was also listed in the PNG declaration. In pursuant to this, Coconut Development Board assisted 165 Coconut Nurseries and 60 Seed Gardens in private sectors with the production capacity of  1 million seedlings per annum. Coconut farm s have been established in 320 ha and new plantations encouraged in private sectors by providing new planting incentives. India's export also exhibited perceptible improvement in the post Rejuvenation period. Root wilt disease intensity has come down and the plantations show signs of  revival from  the set back scenario. India by all means is set for  a quantum jump  in coconut sector. The country is already number one in production and productivity; but the motto is to become the premier country in processing and export too. Policies and programmes of  India are targeting to achieve this goal within the shortest period.

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