The declining price trend in coconut oil has underlined the need for diversification to make various value-added products to keep the industry afloat in the competitive environment, said a senior official of the Coconut Development Board (CDB).

Addressing the annual general meeting of Cochin Oil Merchants Association (COMA), KS Sebastian, Deputy Director of CDB, said the product diversification offers a lot of business opportunities and COMA should take the lead role in availing those benefits to its member fraternity through collective participation.

The concept of “wealth from waste” is fast catching up and the coconut sector should focus on this endeavor to get more income from byproducts. The Board has taken several initiatives for brand promotion of coconut and COMA members — concentrating both on exports and production — should leverage the potential fully to come up with more value-added products to shore up their revenue.

Coconut oil is an essential and highly consumed material in the domestic market and the product has gained enough popularity over the years without any marketing strategies, he said.

Citing the instance of surging exports of activated carbon which made India fetch record revenue in coconut product exports at ₹3,200 crore, Sebastian pointed out that 60-70 per cent in the export kitty (₹2,000 crore) comes mainly from coconut shells, a byproduct.

Tap into expansion opportunities

Sebastian went on to add that COMA members should come up with new projects by availing of the incentive schemes offered by the Board for the technical know-how and product promotion.

The incentive schemes under Technology Mission in Coconut are back with new vigour and COMA members should utilise the opportunities for expansion and modernisation of their existing business. So far, only a limited section of the association has availed the benefits from the Board.

Rajesh Jose, Vice President, COMA said farmers are incurring losses due to declining prices of coconut and other products and the Board should provide subsidy incentives to the existing players rather than new entrants in the coconut oil market.

The mushrooming of small mills in the State is hitting the business of organised players badly. He also urged CDB to induct a member from COMA into the Board which would enable the fraternity to highlight their issues directly to the government.