Mangaluru, June 29, 2016: Coconut is the main crop in about 17,500 hectares in Udupi district, the fall in the prices of coconuts has hit the growers seriously. Besides the crash in the prices, the growers are also troubled by other problems such as menace by wild animals and increasing labour costs and so on.
The growers say a combination of these factors had made coconut cultivation unprofitable. As per the estimates of the Department of Horticulture, there are over 20,000 coconut growers in the district.
President of Zilla Krishik Sangha, who cultivates coconuts in two acres of land at Bantakal village, said that the price of a coconut in the market was hovering around Rs. 5 now. Last year, a coconut fetched about Rs. 9 to the farmers.
“The cost of production per coconut is Rs. 20, if we are going to get just Rs. 5, you can imagine the plight of the coconut growers,” he said. Cultivation of coconut palms is an intense effort. Water is very essential in the summer season from one source or another. Fertilizers have to be provided on time.
Yet another issue is that of plucking of coconuts, there is labour shortage. But climbing equipments are available. However farmers who have crossed 50 years find it difficult to balance on the climbing equipment.
“We have to pay Rs. 40 per coconut tree to a farm worker to pluck coconuts,” said a grower, who cultivates coconuts in five acres of land at Perdoor village.
According to the farmers, wild boars and monkeys have a liking for coconuts. A horde of boars and monkeys can cause substantial damage to the coconut crop. Demanding a monkey park to curb the monkey menace is unheeded. At least Rs. 30 per kg as support price for coconuts is a vital need.
An officer in the Horticulture Department said that Department had little control over fluctuation of prices of coconut, which he said, was based on demand and supply.