K.N. Murali Sankar
Losing proposition:Labourers engaged in coconut fibre peeling in the Konaseema region of East Godavari district. —Photo: By Arrangement
Yield is high in East and West Godavari districts, but prices are going down
After a long gap of three years, coconut farmers from East Godavari district have witnessed significant yield from their groves during this summer season. But still they are not cheerful as the price is going down and they are not even able to get the input costs now.
East and West Godavari districts are known for larger extents of coconut groves and in East Godavari, most of the orchards are located in the lush-green Konaseema region. In all, coconut is being cultivated on 50,000 hectares in the district with the plantation of 150 trees per hectare.
This year, the average yield is 70-75 nuts per tree per annum, which is equal to the cumulative yield of the last three years. The farmers, who complained of a steep hike in input costs such as fertilizer, pesticide and the cutting charges till the year, pinned all their hopes on this summer yield.
Normally, the farmers get double the yield during the summer months and the same has happened this season too.
The problem begins when it comes to the marketing of the produce, as the traders are quoting a very low price stating that there is no demand for coconuts in the neighbouring States.
“We got a yield of 2,000 nuts per acre this month. The same was hardly 300 nuts in the last three years owing to the climatic conditions. Till last year, the price had gone up to Rs. 10 per nut, but now the traders are saying they can’t give more than Rs. 3 per nut,” says Tikkisetti Satyanarayana, a coconut farmer from Razole.
The farmers have to spent Re. 1 per nut towards cutting charges and another 50 paise towards the transportation. “In addition, we have to spend on tilling of the orchard, fertilizer and pesticide. Set aside the profits, we can’t even get the input costs at this selling price,” says Medisetti Dharma Rao of Amalapuram.
“There seems to be a fall in the demand due to the excessive supply of the produce. The farmers must go for value-addition to get remunerative price to coconuts, which help them make money from each and every part of coconut such as the peel, husk, shell, water and the kernel,” says G. Ramanandam, senior scientist at the Horticulture Research Station at Ambajipeta.
He says the Coconut Development Board is encouraging the farmers to form societies so that they can market their value-added products directly.
“The exercise has already begun and the farmers are coming forward to form societies. The societies can be formed as federation and such federations can be registered as company. The Board offers the societies knowledge transfer and support for purchasing the machinery, besides providing a platform for marketing,” explains Dr. Ramanandam.