Agri Business

Further imports will hurt arecanut growers: Campco chief

AJ Vinayak Mangaluru | Updated on January 22, 2018 Published on December 30, 2015

SR SATHISHCHANDRA, President, Campco

The Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Co-operative (Campco) Ltd, which has been serving arecanut and cocoa growers since the last four decades, has got a new president. A native of Punacha village in Bantwal taluk of Dakshina Kannada district, SR Satishchandra assumed charge as President of the multi-state co-operative Campco in August. Prior to assuming charge in Campco, he was active in other co-operative institutions in various capacities. In an interview to BusinessLine, he spoke about his vision for the cooperative, and other issues related to farmers, market, etc. Excerpts:

What are your plans for the co-operative?

Stability to arecanut market and better relationship with grower-members are on my agenda now.

My intention is to stabilise the price of arecanut.

In this regard, steps will also be taken to strengthen the cooperative system in arecanut market.

By ensuring better relationship with grower-members of Campco, I want to get their commitment to the organisation.

Though arecanut contributes a major share of revenue to your co-operative, the prices keep fluctuating. How will you tackle this volatility?

We want to educate grower-members on the need for periodic release of their stock to the market.

If there is a continuous flow of the commodity in the market, there will be less volatility in the market.

When there is hoarding, there is a huge amount of variation in the market.

If that is the case, it is a problem for everybody – co-operative, grower and buyer.

For that we need to impart proper knowledge to them. For example: If you are getting around 12 quintals of arecanut a year from your plantation, release one quintal each every month.

Then you will get average price for your commodity. We have been telling this to the farmers.

What will you say about those farmers who sell the commodity to private traders when the prices are good?

They can do that once or twice, and not all growers are like that. I have confidence in my members.

There are growers with vision, and some do planning also.

Above all, many growers have commitment to the co-operative sector.

Import of arecanut is a cause of concern for both growers and co-operatives? What is being done to tackle this?

Recently, we (the representatives from arecanut cooperatives and MPs from Karnataka) met the Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman to apprise her of the situation.

We are self-sufficient in the production of arecanut, and there is no need to import it. On an average, around 70,000 tonnes is being imported annually.

It is almost 10 per cent of India’s total production.

Some traders take advantage of SAARC Preferential Trading Arrangement (SAPTA) to import arecanut into the country.

Since we are self-sufficient in production, any more imports into the country will affect growers.

Import by means such as SAPTA will also cause revenue loss to the country. All these points have been brought to the notice of the minister.

We have requested her to include arecanut in negative list of commodities while renewing the SAARC agreement. I hope that will happen.

There was a plan to export arecanut to China. What happened to that?

One company from China, which is into preparing mouth fresheners from arecanut peel, had approached us for supplying peel to them.

Our team will visit China to study the market for the commodity and take a decision on that.

Do you have any plan to encourage cocoa cultivation in arecanut plantations?

Yes, we have. We want to distribute around 2 lakh cocoa saplings at subsidised rates to our grower-members.

These saplings will be ready for plantation by June.

Cocoa production in the country needs to be improved. The total cocoa requirement of the country is around 32,000 tonnes. The country, as a whole, produces around 12,000 tonnes, and imports around 20,000 tonnes. Over and above, the chocolate market is growing by 20 per cent every year.

We will also impart training on cocoa cultivation to the interested farmers.

Are you planning any new tie-ups for manufacturing chocolate at your Puttur factory?

We have been producing chocolates for a global brand in Puttur since two decades.

Recently, another company has come to us and production of three varieties of this company has started in our factory.

About your own brands…

We have 23 chocolate products now. We will come out with premium assorted gift pack in a fortnight.

This gift pack with ₹100 MRP includes premium products of Campco.

Can you explain your plans for pepper, as the recent annual general meeting of Campco has given approval to trade in this commodity?

We will enter into the pepper market in the coming days. We want to purchase pepper from our members, process it and market it in our brand.

Published on December 30, 2015
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