World Coconut Day: Undiversified value-added products put coconut economy of India in doldrums
Vadakara: World Coconut Day is celebrated on September 2. But there is nothing much to celebrate as the coconut economy of India remains a sector with untapped potential. The lack of diversity in the value-added products made from coconut is the main reason that put coconut economy of India is in doldrums.
Despite being one of the world’s largest producers of coconut, India has very little to take pride. The story is no different with Kerala, a state that is the largest producer of coconut in the country. Both in national and regional level the farmers involved are struggling to survive with the revenue from coconut cultivation. The sector still slacks a holistic vision and has not tapped its commercial potential.
India only holds 0.30 percent in global market when it comes to coconut milk production. Meanwhile, Asian countries like Sri Lanka and Indonesia respectively produces 53 percent and 30 percent coconut milk globally. A similar trend can be seen in the production of desiccated coconut. Philippines produces 27 percent, Indonesia 26 percent, Sri Lanka eight percent and India four percent.
In India, the coconut economy is mainly focused on by-products and not value-added products. Commercial outlook is somewhat limited to dried coconut, oil and coconut for food items.
According to the data of the Coconut Development Board, 21,206.74 million coconuts were produced in India during 2019-20. Out of this, 9,616 million was used up for milling copra and food items. This is only 45.34 percent of the total coconut produced.
The percentage of coconuts used up for direct consumption in the form of food is also in the same range. That means less than 10 percent of the total coconuts produced in the country is used to make value-added products and for tender coconut water.
Data also shows that Kerala only use less than five percent of coconut produced in the country to make value-added products. Around 600 crore coconuts were produced in Kerala. Interestingly, the half of the total coconuts produced in the state has been used up for direct consumption in the form of food. The remaining coconut mainly end up as copra or oil and only a nominal quantity is used for value-added products. Only small scale units are producing this.
Meanwhile, the Coconut Business Parks which was announced by the government is nowhere near the implementation level. Pertinently, Kerala also has registered the highest number of coconut farming companies in India. However, among the 29 registered only 19 are operational now. Even in that only a few are sustaining in the business.