Coconut in Kerala
Kerala, literally meaning the land of coconut which alone occupies 50 per cent of the arable land and accounts for 44 per cent of production. The largest coconut producing state occupies only the 9th place in terms of yield in the country. It is one third of the yield of 19,667 nuts per hectare recorded in Lakshadweep which is placed in a similar agro climatic condition. Coconut is widely cultivated in all the 14 districts of the states. The concentration areas of production are the districts of Kozhikode, Thiruvantahapuram, Kannur, Malapuram, Thisiur, Kolliam, etc. The most popular varieties of coconut cultivated in Kerala are West Coast Tall (WCT), T x D and D x T. Farmers in the state make use of both rain fed and irrigated systems in coconut plantation. Mixed farming practice is very common in Kerala. Inter cultivation practice, with tapioca, sweet potato, yam, colocasia, ginger, turmeric, pulses, banana, pineapple, pepper, spices etc., is followed. Normally, farmers sell coconut immediately after harvest but few farmers store them for 2 to 3 months. In Kerala, tender coconut harvesting is very less. It is estimated that less than 2 per cent of the total nuts produced are marketed as tender nuts. Harvesting of matured coconut is a traditional practice in Kerala. Since, copra making, oil extraction and coir making are principal activities of industrial importance. About 70 per cent of matured nuts are converted into copra and out of the total copra produced; about 85 per cent is milling copra and 15 per cent in the form of edible ball copra. About 30 per cent of the nuts are utilized for culinary and other purposes, including dispatches to other States. About 80 per cent of the milling copra is converted into oil and the rest along with the ball copra is dispatched to other States. The coconut products made use of by skilled artisans are wood, shell, fibre and spate and some of the artifacts are valued for their aesthetic quality and also for their utility as household appliances. In Kerala many rural artisans are engaged in handicrafts for their livelihood. Although manufacture of coconut based handicraft has been in existence as a traditional activity in the State, its development into a viable and flourishing enterprise has been inhibited because of the absence of facilities for design, training and organized marketing. The coconut products which show potential for organized production in the State are desiccated coconut, partially defatted coconut flour and coconut water and milk based products. Sweet toddy or `neera’ can be harvested / tapped as a health drink, the product is capable of fetching great monitory gain for the state. It has been reported by a local researcher that, even if just 1 per cent of the palms are subjected to tapping, it would give toddy worth Rs 10,000 crore. Coconut cheese is another product made from skim milk in combination with non-fat dry dairy milk powder. This has already evoked consumer interest in the international markets and the opportunity could be exploited profitably by Kerala. Traditional industries manufacturing items as coir, handlooms, and handicrafts which employ around one million people. Around 1.8 lakh small-scale industries provide employment to 909,859 peoples, while some 511 medium-and-large-scale manufacturing firms are located in Kerala. Kerala hails coconut as the `tree of heaven' but so far it has failed to exploit its most potential produce. The main reason for the comparatively low material balance of finished coconut products in Kerala is the small size of nuts and the low turnout of kernel of the West Coast Tall (WCT) variety which occupies over 85 per cent of the area in the state. The coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, is a member of the family Arecaceae (palm family). It is the only accepted species in the genus Cocos. The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which, botanically, is a drupe, not a...
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