A way out of the coconut crisis


The Kurunegala District, in the Coconut Triangle, could provide a solution to the escalating high price of coconut. The following are some steps to be taken by the government, immediately,

Allow the rain fed paddy fields which had been abandoned for over 10 seasons (kannas) or over five years to be planted with coconut. At present the Department of Agrarian Services prohibits planting of any permanent crops in such lands, hence they remain abandoned due to consecutive crop failures, as even vegetables cannot be grown due to acute shortage of water within the paddy land area.

Due to unprecedented weather changes, the farmers are reluctant to engage in Kekulan cultivation, which had been the traditional paddy sowing practice adopted by the farmers in the Kurunegala District. "Kekulan" is a practice adopted by farmers to cast paddy before germination at home, and allowing raw paddy to get germinated from the expected rain.

The farmers may welcome this proposal, and if they are interested in growing coconut in their lands could make an application to the Coconut Cultivation Board (CCB), and on its recommendations only, the Department of Agrarian services, should permit cultivation in paddy lands which do not get a perennial supply of water except the rain water. The CCB should not recommend lands within the Kurunegala District, which are coming under the major or minor irrigation projects, and also the areas which get water clogged due to a rain. In such lands successful coconut cultivation could not be launched.

The targeted coconut growers should be provided with high-bred coconut plants, and the necessary guidance should be provided to them so that after a period of three years the expected yield could be reaped. The plants should be tested and suitable to dry weather and should be supplied at a concessionary price.

By this, a minimum of ten thousand acres could be brought under coconut cultivation in the Kurunegala District, as an accelerated coconut development program to meet the short supply of coconut which could be a key topic even in future elections.

N. B. The loss of the paddy cultivation land area, could get compensated under the major irrigation projects such as the Deduru Oya and the Mahaweli, which still have the potentiality to bring more land area under paddy cultivation

The yield expectation could be estimated as follows:

10,000 acres x 66 = 66,000 plants

At 10 nuts per plucking - 66.000 x 10 = 600.000 (nuts)

Annually 600,000 x 6 plucking at (2 months intervals) = 360.000 nuts

The expected income generation = 360,000 x Rs. 60 per nut =Rs. 21,600,000/= nearly Rs. 22 million.

K. B. H. Col. 6

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