India's coconut and product exports exceeded the ₹3,000 crore mark in the 2021-22 fiscal - up 40 per cent- riding on the comfort of increased shipments of activated carbon. The export figure in 2020-21 was ₹2,295 crore.

Official sources said that 65 per cent of the total exports constituted activated carbon, with the US continuing to be the leading destination with ₹400 crore followed by Germany, Russia, Korea, Netherlands, Belgium, Canada and South Africa.

India exported 1.25 lakh tonnes of activated carbon till February. However, the official figures on the exact quantity and value of exports of all coconut products for 2021-22 are yet to be officially announced by the Coconut Development Board.

Rising acceptance

Joshy Joseph, Director, IndCarb Activated Carbon, Palakkad, said the surge in gold prices and the opening up of gold mines worldwide has facilitated a booming business for activated carbon, a medium used for gold extraction and purification. It is also used to purify air and water due to its high absorption potential for a wide variety of molecules ranging from odorous compounds to carcinogenic impurities.  

The global market for activated carbon is estimated to touch $4.50 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 5.4 per cent, with the market returning to the pre-pandemic levels. The activated carbon from India is getting more acceptance in the global markets than the products of other coconut-producing countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, he said.

Besides, the surging business of activated carbon has helped coconut farmers to earn revenue from coconut shells. Earlier, these coconut shells were used for fuel or as a throwaway product for farmers. Its usage in making activated carbon is now helping growers fetch attractive prices, which is between ₹12,000 and ₹14,000 for a tonne, he said.

India's desiccated coconut powder, coconut oil, raw nuts, copra etc. are also having more takers in the export market, especially in West Asian countries. There are even enquiries for shipment of coconut oil to Malaysia and China mainly because of its price competitiveness vis-a-vis other producing countries, the official source said.

However, for virgin coconut oil, Sri Lanka is taking the price advantage compared to Indian products mainly due to the weakening of the Sri Lankan currency against the dollar.

On the production front, the sources said that a favourable climatic condition in growing states has ensured a 5-10 per cent increase in production in the current year as well.