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High prices of coconut pinch consumers’ pockets

With coconut production in the state hitting a plateau and demand outpacing supply, the humble nut is now being sold for as high as Rs 50 in various markets, reports Bhiva P Parab

Coconut is an essential commodity in Goan kitchens, however nowadays the skyrocketing prices are hurting consumer badly. The prices of coconuts have increased significantly and consumers are not happy with shelling double the rate in recent days.

   A staple in Goan cooking, small size coconuts which were once priced at Rs 8 to 12 are now sold at Rs 14 to Rs 22, while the price of the medium sized coconuts have also almost doubled. It was earlier priced between Rs 14 to Rs 16 and the bigger coconuts which was earlier priced at around Rs 24 to 28 are now sold at around Rs 40 to Rs 50 in the various local markets. It may be noted that the quantity of coconuts available in the state has also decreased.

A local vendor went on to say that prices are bound to increase as the supply is less. “The price increase is at the wholesaler end,” according to the vendor, who said that difficulties in coconut cultivation are one of the reasons for lower produce and spike in prices.

“Coconut pluckers are not available and they charge high for plucking the coconuts, which is also one reason for the increasing prices of coconuts,” said the vendor. He revealed that, that there is shortage in supply of bigger sized coconuts in the markets and most of the coconuts available are of small and medium sizes. Further the quantity of coconuts coming from various parts of Goa is less.

Goa being a tourism state sees robust consumption of tender coconuts which is why some local farmers no longer wait till the nut is mature but pluck them earlier instead.  “With tender coconut selling for Rs 40 to 50 as opposed to Rs 20-30 per mature nut in the market, it is a profitable venture for farmers to choose the immature variant,” according to the information available from the sources.

A consumer said, “I bought three coconuts for Rs 100 from the market, which means it cost me around Rs 35 per coconut, the same sized coconuts a couple of months back were available at prices ranging from Rs 20 and now I have to pay almost the double the price of it. It is hitting our pockets as we in Goa require coconuts almost every day.”

Another consumer said, “We cannot do without coconut in our kitchen, however these days seeing the skyrocketing prices we have reduced consumption of it. For few days it is okay to reduce use of coconut however we cannot do it for long.  I hope that the prices of the coconuts come down quickly.”

It may be noted that the supply of the coconuts coming from outside the state of Goa has decreased and this is another reason for the rise in the price. Demand of the coconuts in the state is more than the production and so coconuts are procured from the states like Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala to meet the local.

Some of the farmers say that the coconut mite attack and various other issues are affecting production adversely. Goan coconuts are getting smaller in size gradually, according to the farmers. Increase in the production of the coconuts requires proper care of the coconut tree like by applying fertilizers, using neem, etc. Care of the coconut tree is necessary for preventing the attack of pests, like coconut mite.

 A farmer went on to say that the young generations shy from doing the hard work of farming as they are educated and agriculture is not a very lucrative job. “The younger generation needs to be encouraged to get involved in the cultivation, especially coconut plantations as coconut is one commodity which does not get spoiled like vegetables in few days and can be stored for several months. The  government should come forward with some scheme which will encourage the younger generation to come into agriculture and look at various problems faced by farmers so that the production of coconuts increases in the future,” said a farmer.

  It may be noted that if farmers employ labourers for taking care of coconut trees there is hardly any profit as they have to pay for the wages of the labourers and the rates of labourers have become high in the recent years.

 Coconut cultivation in the state hovers in the range of 130 million nuts annually with production in 2017-18 estimated at 131.63 million nuts. The area under cultivation is about 26,169 hectares pointing towards an average productivity of 5030 coconuts per hectare.

The state is ideally placed for cultivation of coconuts, viz. climate wise but faces the hurdles of small sized plantations and low yield per tree. Although the volume of coconut cultivation is low, Goa is regarded as a traditionally coconut producing state together with Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. The last four states are the top coconut producers

in India.

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