Special Agriculture Zone too being explored in the region

MP Nalin Kumar Kateel has said a coconut park has been proposed for Dakshina Kannada district to promote coconut farmers.

Speaking at the coconut farmers and entrepreneurs meet organised by Coconut Development Board here on Saturday, he said the park would come up on 50 to 100 acre land, where entrepreneurs will set up units related to value added products like coconut powder, coconut milk, virgin coconut oil and will market it. This is an attempt to promote coconut farmers, value added products and marketing of the products.

He said farmers in the region have not made use of the potential of value-added products from coconut. There is an ample of opportunity for value added products. There is a proposal to set up Special Agriculture Zone in the region to emphasise on agriculture sector.

Amendment to Excise Act

Coconut Development Board Chairman T K Jose said Karnataka government should bring in an amendment to Excise Act to permit members of coconut growers federation to harvest Neera (unfermented sweet sap from coconut flowers) in limited quantities from coconut trees. This would help in increasing the income of coconut growers significantly.

Coconut Producers Company registered in Karnataka had met Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa recently, to impress upon the government to bring Neera outside the purview of Excise Act.

The CM has then directed the team to distribute Neera to all the MLAs and MLCs in the Assembly at Bengaluru after July 15, he said.

“There is a need to differentiate between Neera and toddy. There are six technologies available in India to ensure that Neera does not become toddy. It has six months of shelf life.

In fact, Mahatma Gandhi who had propagated coconut blossom sugar is the brand ambassador for Neera and blossom sugar in Philippines,” Jose said.

“Though India is largest producer of coconut, we are lagging behind in value added products. In the export of value added products, India stands in 21st position. Sri Lanka’s total coconut production is less than the production of three districts in Karnataka—Tumakur, Chitradurga and Hassan. But in terms of exports, it is four times more than India’s total export,” he said emphasising on value added products.

Economic uplift
“Major thrust area where emphasis has to be laid in Karnataka is the economic upliftment of small and marginal farmers to improve the economic standard by creating additional employment potential in the rural and urban sector, creating awareness on new coconut products and development of infrastructure for technology adoption. A vast potential exist for coconut product diversification and efficient utilisation of by products. The state is yet to tap this potential,” he added.

Stating that 35 coconut producers company have been started in India, CDB Chairman said that six companies have been formed in Karnataka. The target is to constitute at least 15 to 20 such companies in Karnataka.

MLA J R Lobo promised to impress upon the State government to formulate Neera policy to help the coconut growers in Karnataka. CPCRI Director Chowdappa P said area under coconut production has increased by one per cent in the last 10 years.

There is a need to improve the production in the available land. “If we depend on copra, then there is no future for coconut. With one tree, a farmer can earn Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 by tapping Neera annually. There is a need to promote Neera, which is a highly nutritious, non alcoholic drink,” he said.

Courtesy: Deccan Herald