VIJAYAWADA:A proposal is being readied to shift the regional office of Coconut Development Board (CDB) from Hyderabad to Andhra Pradesh, given that over 95 per cent of coconut plantations in the combined state are in Andhra region alone.
Addressing the World Coconut Day-2015 celebrations, organised for the first time in the reorganised state of Andhra Pradesh here Wednesday, MP and CDB member Thota Narasimham said that he will diligently follow the proposal with the CM and Central government.
“Coconut is the oldest and traditional crop in the country, more so in AP. Any issue pertaining to coconut farmers should be taken up on priority. Since they stand to benefit from engaging in value addition and producing several products from Neera, I will take up the issue of exempting Neera from the Excise Act along with other issues like coconut insurance, minimum support price, organic coconut cultivation, etc,” he said.
Speakers at the event also emphasised on the need for delisting of ‘Neera’ from excise category in the state, so wider market for Neera based products can be developed benefiting coconut farmers.
In his keynote address CDB chairman TK Jose said that if Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and AP can promote ‘Neera’ together, India can become the world leader in palm sugar export. “Indonesia exports ` 12,000 crore worth ‘Neera’ and India’s production, productivity and crop area is much higher than that country. The only difference is, they are actively engaged in value addition and if we too take up that activity, we can be the numero uno and revenues from exports can be much higher.”
Thailand has just 0.89 lakh hectares and it brings out 50 products, whereas Andhra Pradesh alone has coconut crop area of 1.22 lakh hectares (India has 21 lakh hectares) and is not bringing out a single product. “If Andhra Pradesh focuses on value addition, it by itself can beat Thailand. Moreover, AP stands first in the country in productivity,” he pointed out.
By using every part of coconut in a more useful and value added manner, revenue of the farmers can be enhanced and contribution to the GDP by coconut farmers can be increased manifolds, he said.
Assuring guidance and assistance from the CDB to farmers, he underlined the need for undertaking research on development of seedlings, given vast gap between demand and supply. While the requirement is 1 crore seedlings, only 35 lakh are available, he pointed out.
YSR Horticulture University vice-chancellor BMC Reddy said that they, through their research station at Ambajipeta, are working to bring out better variety of coconut and also prevention of pests and diseases to coconut trees.