Guwahati, Sept. 1: Coconut in the Northeast is looking at a new future.
“The board will promote value-added products — packed tender coconut water, coconut milk powder, desiccated coconut, coconut milk, coconut vinegar, coconut chips and others in the Northeast which would help increase competition of the crop in the region. Twenty-five per cent grant-in-aid will also be given for starting coconut-leased industrial units. Exporting products in small scale by ensuring quality will be the aim of the region,” a board official said. Packed coconut tender water is in great demand.
In fact, National Awards 2010 of the Coconut Development Board will be given in Guwahati tomorrow on World Coconut Day.
The board is also organising a coconut festival on Friday and Saturday in Guwahati. Display-cum-sale of various coconut products will be held as part of the festival.
Coconut is a new introduction and the expansion of the crop has gained momentum with the formation of the board in non traditional areas like north and northeastern parts. The nursery-raising programme and supply of seedlings in these areas started with the procurement and supply of seed nuts from the south by the seed procurement unit of the board initially.
Coconut is grown in an area of 33,493 hectares in the Northeast covering Assam, Tripura, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur and Mizoram. This constitutes 17 per cent of the total area in the country.
Productivity in Assam alone is 9,130 nuts per hectare and production is 1859.62 lakh nuts. Out of 27 districts in Assam, 14 coconut-growing districts show productivity higher than the national average. “Consumption of coconut and coconut products in the various preparations and other social and religious functions is on the increase. Therefore, there is an increasing demand for coconut and this increasing demand exposes the vast potential of expanding the crop in the region,” the official said.
During the 12th Plan period, a separate strategy would be taken for development of the crop in the region and the board would give more emphasis for the promotion of coconut in the northeastern states. “All the available programmes under various departments would be dovetailed for the overall improvement of coconut and coconut-related enterprises,” the official said.
The official said improved variety of quality planting material suitable to the region for undertaking plantation has to be produced and supplied. “Of the total production of quality planting materials, 25 per cent should be of varieties suitable for tender coconut water,” the official said.
The board is providing training to youngsters to climb coconut trees.
The board will also encourage farmers to form coconut producers’ societies and hopes these will collectively enter into procuring, processing and marketing.
“The coconut producers’ societies will offer its members financial and technical assistance to set up coconut-processing units, better facilities for marketing their own products by opening sales counters in each district, opportunity to establish medium-scale units through the federation of societies and the export of coconut and coconut-based products.