Kerala to take coconut to the Caribbean

Kerala to take coconut to the Caribbean

Kerala to take coconut to the Caribbean

Coconut production in the Caribbean may soon have “desi flavour” with the decks being cleared for a transfer of technology between India and the island of Trinidad and Tobago.

A team of officials from the Caribbean is expected to visit Kerala to formalise logistics for the collaboration. The visit is part of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) entered between India’s Coconut Development Board (CDB) and the St Patrick Coconut Growers Cooperative Society on behalf of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) in May last year.

Under the MoU, India will provide technology in production and protection, post-harvest management and primary processing, production of coconut products and mechanised palm climbing.

A two-member CDB team was in the island nation during the first week of June to assess the market and potential for mass-scale production. Ramani Gopalakrishnan, deputy director of the Kochi-headquartered CDB and part of the visiting official team, said T&T offered immense potential for extensive and streamlined production of coconut.

“They have a lot of plantations but the production has taken a serious hit because of inept pest control measures and other issues. The technology used is not adequate. This is where we expect to pitch in,” she told Deccan Herald on Tuesday. The MoU was signed by CDB chairman T K Jose and St Patrick Society chairman Pranesh Maharaj in Kochi last year.

The partnership involves potential cultivation on more than 20,000 acres by 2016. T&T has around 12,000 acres in production but according to CDB officials, these stretches of land need to be replanted.

In addition, the board is proposing 10,000 acres of cultivation. The T&T coconut growers’ society has requested assistance in production of around six lakh seedlings. The shipment is tipped to commence based on recommendations made in a feasibility report. The board members, however, feel that T&T needs fresh expertise right from the nursery stage of production. For meeting this requirement, the collaboration also proposes outsourcing skilled manpower. “There is shortage of manpower in T&T because many local labourers are engaged in the energy sector,” Ramani said.

Slackened production has led to steeply priced branded coconut water in the island nation. The technology transfer from CDB could also lead to a new market for coconut products from India, the official said. “The island nation is importing a lot of coconut products. The situation offers immense scope for marketing Indian coconut products. Its proximity to the America could also work in our favour,” she said.