Coconut Based Industrial Park : Adding Value to Kerala’s Coconut Sector
The coconut palm is an integral part of life in Kerala. From the green trees that tower over its verdant landscape to its ubiquitous presence in the state’s cuisine, Kerala has had a long love affair with this delicious fruit. The state is the largest producer of coconuts in India. Coconut cultivation takes place in 7.88 lakh hectares of land with an annual yield of 580 crore nuts. Coconut farming is the main source of income to more than 3.5 million families in the state.
Potential for Growth: In spite of the enthusiasm with which Keralities embrace the coconut and its various products/by-products, the fact remains that the state has as yet been unable to tap the potential completely. One of the main drawbacks is that a significant chunk of the coconut production is used up in the production of coconut oil or as a food ingredient. The production of value added items is quite low. As a result, Kerala has been unable to penetrate the export market. A comparison between Kerala and Sri Lanka proves this point. Coconut production in Kerala was 56,670 million as compared to 2619 million in Sri Lanka. However, India’s export earnings from coconut in 2010-11 stood at a mere $94 million as compared to Sri Lanka’s $247 million. The reason is that Sri Lanka has a much more diversified basket of coconut products as compared to Kerala and India.
The Coconut Industrial Park at Kuttiyadi
The government has been making concerted efforts to encourage the coconut industry in the state. The idea is to not just increase production, but increase the range of value added products. This would reap economic benefits in the form of better returns to farmers, greater job creation and higher export earnings. In addition, the state would be focusing on a crop in which it has a traditional advantage.
The Coconut Industrial Park at Kuttiyadi in Kozhikode district is being promoted by Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation. It will be the first Coconut Industrial Park in the country. Kuttiyadi region is considered to be the heartland of coconut cultivation in Kerala. The 115-acre park will provide infrastructure and plots for coconut processing units. The location of the industrial park is ideal as it is close to the Kozhikode airport. In addition, there is a railway station just 21 km away while the Mangalore port is at a distance of 200 kilometres. This gives the units easy access to both domestic as well as international markets.
In order to ensure that the park works efficiently, KSIDC has proposed that it be divided into three zones. While one of the zones will house units producing coconut water based items, the remaining two zones will have kernel based units and coconut wood & charcoal based units respectively.
Widening Kerala’s Range of Value Added Coconut Products
The industrial park will give a new impetus to Kerala’s coconut industry by ensuring that the consumer gets a more diversified range of products. The proposed product lines include the following:
Coconut water-based products including tender coconut water, water based beverages, vinegar, nata-de-coca. There will also be units that process the inflorescence sap of coconut palms to produce “Neera” (sweet toddy or palm nectar), the production of which is now being encouraged by the State Government.
Kernel based products like desiccated coconut, coconut milk, spray dried milk powder, cream virgin coconut oil, chips and coconut oil.
Shell based products including shell powder, shell charcoal, activated carbon and handicrafts.
Coconut husk to make coir and coir products
Support for Entrepreneurs: The Park will provide both technological as well as financial support to entrepreneurs setting up their units. Financial assistance will also be considered for prospective medium and large scale units in the Park.
The Park will provide all basic facilities required by entrepreneurs to set up their units including supporting infrastructure facilities like Electrical substation and Power Distribution Network, Water supply system, Water treatment plant, Effluent treatment plant, Rainwater harvesting facilities, etc. In addition it is also proposed to have special infrastructure facilities like Incubation Centre, Quality Control Laboratory, R & D facilities, Logistic Hub, etc. A Technology Demonstration Centre will provide technical assistance as required. Developed land will be available to potential entrepreneurs on long term lease basis for setting up coconut-based industrial units.
Current status: KSIDC has taken advance possession of 115 acres of land at Velom village near Kuttiyadi, for setting up the Coconut Industrial Park. The Detailed Project Report for the Coconut Industrial Park has been prepared through M/s. Mahindra Consulting Engineers Ltd. KSIDC has also appointed Project Management Consultants, and prepared the master plan layout and estimates for infrastructure works at the Park. KSEB has been engaged for preparing the estimate for bringing an 11 KV dedicated feeder to the Park. Steps are also initiated to widen 7 km of approach road to the Park for the free movement of container traffic.