Agriculturist discovers successful way to cocum cultivation

Agriculturist discovers successful way to cocum cultivation

A Puttur-based nonagenarian agriculturist has been carrying out cocum cultivation, processing and value addition and found himself successful as he has attained a level where he is exporting them to foreign countries.

Balliakana Narayana Rai, proprietor of Dinesh Bhavan hotel and lodge, in Puttur, is known for his experiments in agriculture.

The 92-year-old Rai who owns ‘Balliakana Estate’ in Balliakana in Ariyadka Village near Kaudicharu, started cocum cultivation in his farm situated on a hilly region, after being inspired by a farmer in Shivamogga who cultivates cocum as commercial crop.

He planted hundreds of cocum saplings, many including his family members, made fun of him. But Rai was not to lose hope and carried on. Now, the number of cocum plants have reached ten thousand.

In his opinion, cocum does not need water, manure and insecticide as coconut plants. The plants will start bearing fruits in five years.

One to two quintal cocum could be reaped from 10-year-old tree. The tree bears fruit only during March.

After harvest, all one has to do is to separate the seeds and dry them in the sun for three days and no labours are required. As there is a good demand, cocum could be a better option over rubber, in hilly regions. 

Huge overseas demand

Cocum contains 13.5 per cent Hydro citric acid, which decreases fat and hence is in a huge demand in foreign countries.

Ten years ago, cocum cost Rs 10 per kg while now, the market rate has gone up to Rs 150 per kg. Cocum is used in the preparation of juices and medicines. Cocum butter, oil extracted from cocum seeds, also has a good market value, Narayan Rai said.

Rai also sells cocum to farmers in the area at a discount rate. If the rate of cocum is Rs 150 per kg in Goa market, Rai sells it for farmers at Rs 125.  Goa Cocum Board Director Ajith Shirodkar had visited Rai’s farm and expressed his pleasure.

Rs 18 lakh per acre

As a commercial crop, cocum could fetch Rs 18 lakh per acre. Even if it is cultivated in a five-acre land, one could get not less than Rs 50,000.

Cocum plants could be grown around areca farms and in vacant lands and it supports you after ten years, he said and added that the medicinal values of the crop are still to be known to many.

He has also experimented with cocum and prepared cocum syrup, which he released in the local market. But, many companies had induced cocum juice, adulterated with chemicals, that too at a much cheaper rate. Anyway, now he is exporting them to foreign countries. 

After researches on cocum,  Rai has now set out to start an industry to produce hair oil, syrup and juice from the fruit. 

Narayana Rai had encountered a failure in jackfruit cultivation and dairy farming by rearing buffalo as it demanded large number of labourers.

In the same building meant for buffalo rearing, he is now carrying out cocum processing. Today’s youth, who are carrying out small jobs in towns despite having acres of land in villages, can draw an inspiration from Narayana Rai, who has chosen agriculture as his lifeline, even after being a graduate.

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