CHENNAI: Pointing out that the Minimum Support Price (MSP) of Rs 99.60 per kg for fixed or milling copra by the Centre would be inadequate for coconut growers in the state, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Wednesday urged Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar to increase it to at least Rs 125 per kg for the current copra season.
The Chief Minister, in his letter to the Union Minister, recalled that the Tamil Nadu government, while communicating its views on the price policy for the copra season, had on January 23 suggested Rs 105 per kg for milling copra.
“Tamil Nadu is one of the major coconut growing states in the country with an area of around 4.40 lakh hectares. At present, the market rate in Tamil Nadu and nearby states prevails between Rs 100 to Rs 110 per kg. Hence, taking the above challenges into consideration, it is felt that the present MSP for milling copra of Rs 99.60 per kg will not be adequate to compensate their cost of production,” he added.
Explaining that coconut plantations in Tamil Nadu in the past two years had faced many challenges like the occurrence of Gaja cyclone in 2018 and the incidence of Rugose Whitefly in 2019, Palaniswami said coconut growers incurred substantial expenditure during harvesting, transportation, and storage of harvested produce.
Further, the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic had a detrimental impact on coconut farmers and they had to incur additional costs due to scarcity of labour and challenges in transportation.
He also pointed out that the Centre had fixed the MSP for crops like paddy, ragi, and pulses at 150 percent of the cost of cultivation. “Coconut farmers also need to be given adequate price for their produce to enable them to overcome the increasing costs of production in the background of seasonal adversities, pest attacks, and rising input costs,” he added.