BENGALURU: Tender coconut, your greatest ally against the searing summer ahead, may not be able to don that role this year with both its quality and quantity drastically falling. Reason: Tender coconut from the state are being transported to Gujarat, Rajasthan, Goa, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, leaving Bengaluru deprived of quality tender coconuts, but only with what is called ‘C grade’ tender coconuts. Which is why most tender coconuts that you may get in the city are small-sized with less water, that too salty and greenish coloured, and damaged skin.
In Karnataka, coconut is grown over 4.5 lakh hectares, of which nearly 1.5 lakh hectares is cultivated in the Cauvery basin — including Mandya, Mysuru, Chamarajanagar and Ramanagara — where 16 crore coconuts are grown annually.However, Ambarish Muttanahalli, president of Maddur Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) yard, told The New Indian Express that although geographically Bengaluru is close to these growing areas, less than 20 per cent of the total number comes to Bengaluru. “Our tender coconuts go to Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Kolkata. There is a huge demand from these places and it increases during summer,” he said.
The growers from these districts in the Cauvery basin bring tender coconuts to Maddur APMC yard — the biggest in Asia. Muttanahalli said the Maddur APMC yard sends out three to four lakh tonnes of tender coconuts every day.But although Maddur APMC is less than 100km from Bengaluru, the state capital is not getting these high quality tender coconuts, which are categorised as ‘A grade’. Bengaluru normally gets only B grade and C grade coconuts.
While sources from the APMC said there are middle-men making huge profits. “Normally, farmers do not get their coconuts to the markets as they do not have skilled labour to pluck coconut. These traders who are equipped with men and machinery go to the farmers, cut and bring it to the APMC yard. The good quality tender coconuts are given to the merchants in other states who sell one for over Rs 25, whereas for Bengaluru and other districts it starts from Rs 5 onwards, which are sold for Rs 15 in the state capital.
While A grade quality tender coconut are bigger in size, with little red tint colour, sweet water, B will be similar to A quality, but the size and sweetness is lesser. Normally, B grade tender coconuts comes to Bengaluru during summer — but this time even that is not happening.
Horticulture scientist Dr S V Hittalamani said in Karnataka, 70 per cent of the total coconut growing area depends on rain. “In Karnataka, for the last many years, we are not getting sufficient rains. This has resulted in a decrease in quality of coconut, and the size is smaller. At some places like Tumakuru, Chitradurga and Davangere, coconut trees have dried. But in the Cauvery basin — which is more irrigation-oriented farming — the quality is good,” he said.
Types of coconuts
Large size, sweet tender coconut water, reddish tint on shell, more water
Medium size, sweet water, less water, green and red colour shell
Small size, salty water, less water, green colour, damaged skin