Come On India,Corporatise the Coconut   1 comment

Kerala,and India,hasnt really cracked the full potential of this hard nut.But as the world wakes up to this  rehydrating,natural,energiser,that could well change.It must

It was not what Suresh Nair ever wanted to do.But acute labour shortage had forced Nair,a coconut farmer in Alappuzha,Kerala,to attend a short-duration course in coconut palm climbing,organised by the Coconut Development Board (CDB).I hope to do the next round of harvesting on my own, says Nair,a member of the Coconut Producers Society (CPS),set up to promote coconut-based products,including tender coconut water.

Waking Up

Finally,the state that produces approximately 600 crore coconuts a year is in the process of setting up large plants to produce and package tender coconut water.And the timing isnt all that bad out there in the US East Coast,the beverage war has just moved from soda fountains to coconut groves.In New York and similar business hubs,tender coconut water is billed as the Next Big Thing.Reports citing industry estimates say that the US retail sales of tender coconut water rose to as much as $400 million last year.Thats a 100% growth from 2005.Besides Kerala,major producers of coconut are West Bengal,Andhra Pradesh,Tamil Nadu,Karnataka and Odisha while the big markets are Delhi,Mumbai,Ahmedabad and Bangalore.

Tell-Tale Tree

The total production of coconuts in the country is estimated at 1,500 crore nuts per year.Of this only 15% is harvested as tender coconuts,a statistic that has persuaded CDB to set a production target of 25% tender nuts nationally.CDB also plans to launch 5,000 green coconut stalls across the country,mainly in hospitals,shopping malls and pilgrimage centres.
Yet,all those plans could come unstuck if states like Kerala cant overcome its legacy burdens: declining productivity due to small holdings and pests,migration to cash crops like rubber,levelling of farms due to rapid urbanisation,and acute labour shortage.Says Sreekumaran from Palakkad,who owns a coconut farm: Hit by labour shortage,I was forced to give the entire farm to wholesale traders. The price that the traders pay is 5.50-6 per coconut;if Sreekumaran had sold it directly to the market,he could have netted 8-9 per nut.All this when a tender coconut retails at 35-50 in places like New Delhis tony Greater Kailash.

Beyond a Nut Shell

The solution to these ills may not just lie in transporting the harvest straight to places like Greater Kailash.Corrections needed here are foundational,measures that could lift farmers from the tyranny of available options.In other words,facilities to process and preserve the produce;a search for that Holy Grail,the public-private partnership.In fact,in the organised sector,almost all the major processors have entered a phase of healthy growth,thanks to the rising demand for tender coconut water.Ajay Kumar Jain,managing director of Jain Agro Food Products,notes that the organised tender coconut water industry has been growing at a rate of 20% to 25%.The R A J Karnataka-based company which sells the Coco Jal brand of tender coconut water has found major markets for its products in Delhi and Rajasthan.
Jain buys his stock from Maddur in Karnataka,the largest local wholesale market for tender coconuts.He says that the demand growth has led to an increase in the prices in the wholesale market.The price for tender coconut is 10-12 compared with 5-7 in 2010.
The Kochi-based CDB feels that integrated coconut processing complexes are the right approach.Board chairman TK Jose has had enquiries from Coke,Pepsi and Zico for tender coconut water.But we did not have enough output to meet their requirement. He feels that apart from tender coconut water the processing centres can also produce coconut milk and milk powder,desiccated coconut and virgin coconut oil.

The Palm-top View

Can Kerala,and India,get ready to reap a global harvest considering that beverage majors such as Coca-Cola,Pepsi and Zico currently source their nuts from Indonesia and Philippines Well,if anything,our track record isnt really inspiring.
Kerala accounts for nearly 42% of the area under coconut and 37% of its production in the country.Yet,it does not have a single tender coconut waterproducing unit.In fact,we have only seven such units in the country,CDBs Jose says.Kerala plans to start 10 such units.

Age of Concern

For his part,CM Kamaraj,managing director of the Tamil Nadu-based Sakthi Coco Products,says the age profile of the coconut palms in Kerala are not suitable for tender coconut water production.However,a major plan to rejuvenate the coconut plantations by cutting the old,senile and diseaseaffected palms and planting the new varieties is underway in Kerala.Clearly,the state is planning for the future.
In Greater Kailash and Colaba Causeway,maybe even in LA,the thirsty ones would be waiting.

Tender Coconut Water as Health Drink

Packed with essential electrolytes: sodium,magnesium,calcium,potassium,phosphorus,potassium Zero cholesterol,zero fat,zero added sugar Supports rapid hydration Lowers acidity


Posted February 26, 2012 by avinash2060 in Economy

One response to “Come On India,Corporatise the Coconut

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  1. Things that I felt absolutely sure of but a few years ago, I do not believe now. This thought makes me see more clearly how foolish it would be to expect all men to agree with me. Jim Rohn

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