VIJAYAWADA: The stage is set for the ‘World Coconut Day’ celebrations here tomorrow -- in the first such event in the residuary state.
Briefing newsmen on the celebrations here on Tuesday, Coconut Development Board (CDB) Director Rajeev P George said that the World Coconut Day was celebrated every year on September 2 to reaffirm their commitment to conserving and promoting coconut, an important horticultural crop, not just in India but several other South and South-East Asian countries.
“In India, 12 million people are dependent on coconut farming for their livelihood and the contribution of the coconut farming sector to the GDP of the country is around Rs 10,000 cr”, he said and added that the CDB was optimistic of a bright future for the coconut farmers provided they were willing to make collective efforts and adopt the latest technologies and do value addition. He said that the CDB was ready to extend technical knowhow to the farmers.
According to experts, India stands first in production and productivity of coconut in the world and third in the area of cultivation. Andhra Pradesh, where coconut is cultivated in an area of 1.025 lakh hectares with an annual production of 1,678 million nuts, stands first in productivity and the scope for expansion is immense.
Pointing out the same, the CDB Director said that since 1990, the board had been implementing various schemes with the major thrust being given to expanding the area under coconut, improving productivity of existing coconut holdings and promoting value addition. “During 2015-16, the target for implementing various schemes in the state is Rs 12.57 cr. Increasing the area under coconut plantation is the top priority. We are also encouraging seed gardens and assisting in setting up demonstration-cum-seed production farms,” he explained.
Explaining the new initiatives of the board, George said it had initiated the formation of Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) in a three-tier mode - coconut producer societies (CPS), federation of CPS (CPF) and Coconut Production Company with the concept of aggregating small and marginal coconut farmers into legally-registered entities, that would be engaged in all activities right from production to marketing and export of the coconut in value-added form. “In Andhra Pradesh, there are three such coconut producer companies, 50 CPFs and 660 CPSs and efforts are on to increase their numbers,” he said.
He also explained about Friends of Coconut Tree and the short-term training that the board was providing them, so they could in turn help the farmers in coconut harvesting given the scarcity of coconut tree-climbers. Research was also on for development of advanced tree-climbing machines.
“ Production of Neera and other value-added products is another important area on which the CDB is concentrating. There are about 140 different products that can be made out of coconuts, which have worldwide demand. Value addition also enhances the income levels of the farmers,” explained. Johar Khan, member of CDB.
Khan said their ultimate aim was to ensure that a farmer on his own got more than Rs 100 per coconut in different forms. “It is very much possible, provided the farmers become collective, adopt more scientific and modern cultivation methods and engage in end-to-end production of coconut products in a cooperative manner. The CDB is always there to extend its guidance and expertise,” he added.
G Ramanandam, Principal Scientist (Horticulture) and Head of Horticulture Research Station, Ambajipeta, also spoke on the occasion.