Tiptur in Tumakuru district and Arsikere in Hassan district are the major coconut markets in Karnataka. | Photo credit: special arrangement
Coconut farmers in Karnataka are losing sleep over the continued decline in copra prices. The prevailing market price, they argue, is insufficient even to cover the cost of inputs.
In November 2022, the price of copra was around ₹14,500 per quintal. The price started falling in December 2022. For the past six months, the price has been around ₹8,000 per quintal. As of July 10, balled copra was selling for ₹7,000 at Channarayapatna market in Hassan district, according to growers.
Ramachandra, a coconut farmer from Valagerahalli in Channarayapatna taluk, looks after 500 coconut trees. “Considering the cost of cultivation and human labor, farmers should get at least ₹25,000 per quintal of copra. But, human labor and the value of the land are never taken into account. The going price is insufficient to meet our regular expenses, forget about being able to repay the loans,” he said.
Coconut is grown on over 6.46 lakh hectares across Karnataka, and the production of ball copra is around 2.18 lakh metric tons per year. The drop in prices was also the subject of debate during the session of the Legislative Assembly. MPs representing coconut growing areas demanded financial incentives for growers in addition to the MSP of ₹11,750 per cwt.
Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha (KPRS) Hassan District Chairman HR Naveen Kumar said the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) has stopped buying copra. “Copra is not a seasonal crop. Producers sell copra throughout the year. Therefore, NAFED should procure copra,” he said.
In August 2022, the state government had recommended to the Agricultural Costs and Prices Commission to set a minimum support price of ₹16,730 per cwt. “This award has been recommended by the Department of Horticulture. The state government should set the price at ₹16,730 per quintal to benefit the farmers,” he said.
The Channarayapatna Coconut Growers Struggle Committee has written to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in support of this demand. In addition to this, the committee wants the government to fix the price of copra in line with the Commission’s report by Dr MS Swaminathan, who suggested an MSP 50% higher than the average cost of production, announces a special package for producers of coconuts and is taking action to end corruption in the supply of copra through NAFED.