From the days when the backyards of most houses in Chennai boasted of tall coconut palms, the city’s landscape has undergone tremendous change because of rapid urban development. People live in apartment complexes that prefer to allot space for parking, rather than for a garden.
A state-owned coconut nursery in Madhavaram is trying to change this, at least in the suburbs, where space is available.
The lush green premises spread over 11 acres in Arul Nagar, Madhavaram Milk Colony, belongs to the Agriculture Department. The department conducts awareness programmes to encourage residents of the city’s suburbs to grow coconut trees. The most recent one was held in view of World Coconut Day. T. Sundararajan, joint director (Tiruvallur), Agriculture distributed coconut seedlings to residents.
D. Vijayakumar, assistant director (Ambattur), Agriculture, said Chennai mostly consumes tender coconuts sourced from Pollachi and Andhra Pradesh. “We tell residents about the benefits of coconut palms and how it can be a source of income. We discuss pest control, fertilisers and also assist them in growing the trees,” he said. Officials of the Agriculture Department said residents procure nearly 50,000 coconut seedlings every year. “We recommend hybrid varieties, which grow up to 22 feet only, for suburbs as it may be difficult to find tree-climbers,” said an official.
Mr. Vijayakumar said one coconut tree can yield up to 75 coconuts per year. While a hybrid coconut seedling costs Rs. 25, the tall variety comes for Rs.15. The department may be contacted at 044-26246110.K. Lakshmi