Coconut farmers in Tamil Nadu have expressed disappointment over the hike in Minimum Support Price (MSP) for copra announced by the Central government on Wednesday.
The new MSP for milling copra will be ₹ 11,160 per quintal and for ball copra it will be ₹12,000 per quintal.
P. Kandasamy, State general secretary, of Farmers Association (non-political), said the government is procuring only 10% of the copra through the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED). “This is not adequate as the farmers are selling the remaining quantity in the open market for approximately ₹ 80 a kg,” he said.
The main demand of the coconut farmers is that the government should value add the copra into coconut oil and sell it through PDS outlets.
R. A. Sakthivel, chairman, Tamil Nadu Coconut Farmer Producer Companies’ Consortium, said the hike will not help the farmers. “We expected the price of milling coconut to be increased to minimum ₹125 a kg. Tamil Nadu has 4.5 lakh hectares under coconut and the prices are down for the last two years. As done in Punjab for wheat, the NAFED should convert the copra into oil and sell it through PDS outlets. If it releases the procured copra in the market, the prices will fall further,” he said.
Earlier in the day, before the announcement of the hike in the MSP, G.K. Nagaraj, State president of the farmers’ wing of Bharatiya Janata Party, led a protest in Coimbatore demanding that the State government distribute coconut oil through PDS outlets.