Price of coconut, pepper soar; farmers in distress as production declines
Kelakam (Kannur): The price of raw coconut is on a record high in the recent times. Coconut is sold for Rs 40 per kilogram in the hilly regions for the last two weeks. In some markets, the price is Rs 42. The price was Rs 39 in the previous weeks. However, the farmers are not benefited with the price hike as the production nosedived recently.
After the heavy rains in 2018 and 2019, the production of coconut has declined immensely. Also coconut trees are more frequently affected with diseases. The excess rain caused many soil nutrients to be washed away. Raw coconut production decreased by 40 percent this year. Pest menace is also reported more from hilly areas.
Merchants stated that there is a decrease of 60 percent in the quantity of coconut brought to the market. Also increasing price of coconut oil and decreasing arrival of coconut from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka resulted in the price hike. The statistics of the Coconut Development Board also shows that production of coconut declined to half in the last 10 years.
About 12 quintals of coconut is required for oil production in a week. Even though merchants pay Rs 2 more than market price, they don't get sufficient amount of coconut, said Joseph Nambudakam, chairman of Iritty Coconut Farmers Producer Company.
Pepper also is in a similar state. Though its price is at Rs 325 per kilogram, production declined. Stems emerge on the pepper vines, but pepper is not growing on them, the farmers said. So, they are unable to make any profit after paying the wage of the labourers.