Shobha Karandlaje, Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, has called for the need to undertake coconut cultivation and processing as a commercial enterprise and target the export market to ensure remunerative returns to smallholder farmers.

She was delivering the inaugural address of the 25th World Coconut Day celebrations organized by the Coconut Development Board in association with ICAR-CPCRI, Kasaragod.

The Minister requested farmers to use various government developmental schemes such as Kisan Samman Yojana, PM Fasal Bheema Yojana, and Agricultural Infrastructure Fund to improve production, value addition and export-oriented trade.

She highlighted the need to move to process and product diversification, thus enabling a shift from copra-centred processing to other products such as neera, virgin coconut oil and coconut chips to ensure better price realisation.

The Farmer Producer Organizations can revolutionise the coconut sector by strengthening the collective power of the small and marginal farmers. They can help promote farm mechanization, undertaking agriculture as a business and export promotion, she added.

The Minister also honoured ten coconut entrepreneurs in the function. MoUs on technology transfer were executed with seven entrepreneurs. Vadakara Coconut Farmer Producer Company Ltd, which secured the award instituted by the International Coconut Community for the best farmer organisation globally, was also felicitated at the event.

Over 500 progressive farmers from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Goa and Gujarat attended. An exhibition showcased various coconut cultivation and processing technologies and diversified coconut products. A technical session was also organized followed by a panel discussion on coconut business plans proposed by the FPOs.