Coconut fest opens in Coimbatore

According to him, Indonesia is producing 170 million tonnes of coconut per year, while Philippines produced 130 million tonnes.

COIMBATORE: The first edition of ‘CII Coconut Festival’ opened here on Saturday, amid domain experts calling for more value addition to coconut to help tap the huge business potential it offers in both the domestic and export sectors.

The two-day exhibition under the theme, ‘More nuts per tree and more value per nut’ was inaugurated at CODISSIA trade fair complex. Speaking at the function, P Ravichandran, chairman CII, Tamil Nadu, said that value addition is the future of Indian food industry, as world population continued to increase.

He said, “the current population of the world will increase into 7.2 billion from six billion in 2030 and it will touch nine billion in 2050. People require nutritious food and coconut will fill the need through value addition, which is hugely untapped.”

According to him, Indonesia is producing 170 million tonnes of coconut per year, while Philippines produced 130 million tonnes. As a major coconut producing country India is producing 111 million tonnes. However, lower income for farmers is a major issue in India. He said,

Pointing out that the value added products per tree of coconut was worth Rs 180 in other countries, he said in India it was as low as Rs 30 per tree. More opportunities in the coconut sector thus lay in increasing value addition, he stressed and added that more youth should be attracted into agri-business in the country.

Mr. P Chowdappa, director of ICAR’s Central Plantation Crops Research Institute, said that lack of interest among youth in agriculture was a biggest challenge, as they avoided entering the field due to very low profit margins in agriculture.

He noted that value added products including coconut milk, coconut sugar and ‘neera’ will help to capture more business opportunities.

Speaking at the occasion, Coir Board chairman, C P Radhakrishnan said there was no immediate possibility to increase value addition in coconuts though Centre continued to take effective measures. He said,

“The export of coir products was doubled within last two years and measures were taken to set up infrastructure facilities, lab and research centres to mechanise value-added coir products. Centre is providing 40 per cent subsidy for start up business in such initiatives.”

Calling for ensuring maximum support price for crops to farmers, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, vice chancellor, K Ramasamy regretted that farmers were yet to get benefits out of measures taken by the government to increase the yield and their price issues should be solved first.

S Narayanan, chairman, CII, Coimbatore, S Senthilnathan, convener of Agri Based Business and Food Processing Panel, CII, Coimbatore, C Anandharamakrishnan, director of Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology and other experts took part in the conference.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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