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Tiptur in Tumakuru district and Arsikere in Hassan district are the prime coconut markets in Karnataka.

Tiptur in Tumakuru district and Arsikere in Hassan district are the prime coconut markets in Karnataka.
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Coconut growers in Karnataka are losing sleep over the continuous fall in copra prices. The prevailing price in the market, they claim, is insufficient even to meet the input cost.

In November 2022, the copra price was around ₹14,500 per quintal. The price started to fall in December 2022. For the last six months, the price has been around ₹8,000 per quintal. As of July 10, the ball copra was sold at ₹7,000 in Channarayapatna market in Hassan district, according to growers.

Ramachandra, a coconut grower from Valagerahalli in Channarayapatna taluk, tends to 500 coconut trees. “Given the cost of cultivation and human labour, farmers should get at least ₹25,000 per quintal of copra. But, human labour and the value of land are never taken into account. The prevailing price is insufficient to meet our regular expenses, forget being able to repay 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 tonnes per year. The fall in price came up for debate in the Legislature session as well. MLAs representing coconut-growing areas demanded financial incentives for growers in addition to the MSP of ₹11,750 per quintal.

H.R. Naveen Kumar, Hassan district president of Karnataka Prantha Raitha Sangha (KPRS), said the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) had stopped procuring copra. “Copra is not a seasonal crop. Growers sell copra throughout the year. Hence, the NAFED should procure copra,” he said.

In August 2022, the State Government had recommended to the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices to fix a minimum support price of ₹16,730 per quintal. “This price was recommended by the Horticulture Department. The State Government should fix the price at ₹16,730 per quintal for the benefit of farmers,” he said.

The Coconut Growers’ Struggle Committee of Channarayapatna has written to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in support of this demand. Besides that, the committee wants the government to fix the price of copra as per the Dr. M.S. Swaminathan Commission’s report, which suggested a MSP that is 50% more than the average cost of production, announce a special package for coconut growers, and take measures to stop corruption in the procurement of copra through NAFED.

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