Growers urge Govt. to resume copra procurement
Though the statutory minimum price is Rs. 35.70 a kg, growers get only Rs. 30 to Rs. 34 "If the Government procures copra at Rs. 40 a kg, we will get Rs. 5 a coconut.''
AWAITING BETTER PRICE: Agricultural labourers engage in drying coconut kernel at a farm at Mandhiripalayam, near Gudimangalam in Coimbatore district. Photo: M. Balaji
Worried over the continuous slump in the coconut kernel price, coconut growers in this region have urged the State Government to resume the procurement of copra immediately.
Since the existing market rate for copra is lower than the statutory minimum price (SMP) announced by the National Agricultural Co-operative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED), the farmers urged the Government to help them in this regard.
Copra rate has fallen sharply from Rs. 50 a kg two months ago to Rs. 30 - Rs. 34 a kg now. The SMP announced by the Centre is Rs. 35.70. "If the Government does not come to our rescue, we will end up with huge loss,'' says T. A. Krishnasamy Gounder, president of United Coconut Growers Association of South India (UCGASI).
Though the price of coconut oil in the retail market has not come down, traders stick to their rates for copra much below the SMP. "We want a standard price of Rs. 40 a kg of coconut kernel. As the SMP is Rs. 35.70 a kg, we want a support price of Rs. 4.30 a kg from the State Government,'' Mr. Krishnasamy Gounder said.
The Centre cannot procure the produce directly and the Tamil Nadu Co-operative Marketing Federation (TANFED) has to procure it for them.
The UCGASI president said that he had written several letters to the State Government and he had not yet got any response from it.
Farmers in depts
According to Govindaraj, a coconut trader of Kullampalayam, majority of the farmers in this region, particularly Pollachi, Pongalur, Palladam, Gudimangalam and Sultanpet areas are in debts due to drought for successive years and they are not in a position to stock their produce to get better price. There is no symptom of increase in price in the near future.
Due to eriophyde mite attack on coconut, the yield has come down sharply.
"We are able to sell them at Re. 1, Rs. 2 and Rs. 4 a coconut depending upon the size,'' Mr. Krishnasamy Gounder said.
"If the Government procures copra at Rs. 40 a kg, we will get Rs. 5 a coconut. If the rate falls below this we cannot sustain as labour wages and other costs have gone up manifold,'' he said.
The ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) Government suspended procurement of copra ever since it assumed office, following widespread allegation of corruption in the procurement during the previous Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) regime.
The UCGASI said that if the Government procured copra from genuine farmers, it would be a win-win situation for both the farmers and the consumers.
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