Shortage of coconuts hits all sectors
The shortage of coconuts in the country is adversely affecting all
sectors of the coconut industry. Coconut cultivators cannot provide
coconuts to the processing and other value added sectors due to the drop
Coconut growers said the annual shortfall of coconuts is over 500
million nuts and added that if steps are not taken to increase
cultivation the exports industry will be affected and domestic prices of
coconuts will rise.
Chairman, Sri Lanka Coconut Cooperative Societies Union Ltd., George
Perera said though the Coconut Cultivation Board (CCB) has launched
programs to assist growers the benefits do not filter down to the small
growers due to the complexity and procedural difficulties to obtain
“The CCB programs to help growers will not have an impact if the
benefits do not trickle down to growers.The process of obtaining
assistance needs to be simplified and all growers should be given
assistance without discrimination.
Exports of desiccated coconut, coconut milk powder, coconut cream and
copra came to a virtual standstill early this year due to the shortage
of coconuts which is usual during the first quarter of the year and high
import duty on edible oil.
While the estimated loss during the period was Rs. 2,000 million, the
livelihood of over 12,000 workers employed directly were affected due to
most factories confining work to a few days per week.
Desiccated coconut millers said they could not sustain their business
and had to confine work to a few days per week.
Over 70 per cent of the annual national production is consumed by
households leaving the rest for the processing industry. While the
country’s annual requirement is around 3.7 billion nuts, the production
is around 2.7 billion nuts.
Perera said there should be a short and long term plan to overcome
the crisis affecting the coconut industry. Over 40 per cent of the
kernel is wasted when extracting milk in households.
There should be a proper mechanised system to extract milk and
packing for a long shelf life at a reasonable price.
“The CCB should encourage small growers who contribute over 65 per
cent of the national production. Home garden coconut cultivation should
be promoted which will help to meet the growing domestic consumption”,
the Chairman said.
Since there is no systematic replanting most coconut trees, the
returns have been low during the past decade. Pests and diseases such as
mite, leaf rot and leaf wilt affects around 20 per cent of the
Fragmentation of cultivated land is aggravating the situation and
legislation against the sale of such land should be rigidly enforced.
Measures should be taken to protect small growers from exploitation by
The Cooperative Societies are helping small growers to get a better
price for their produce.
The number of cooperative societies should be increased to support
small growers and increase production. The current intake of the
societies is around 10 per cent of the production.
Coconut Cooperative Societies have been operating in the country for
over 60 years and the Grandpass Union is the marketing arm of the
Coconut Cooperative Societies.
Primary Coconut Cooperative Societies have been set up in Marawila,
Naththandiya, Wennappuwa, Kegalle, Wijayakatupotha, Minuwangoda,
Dunagaha and Sandalankawa.
The coconut plantations scattered over most parts of the country is a
smallholders crop and plays a pivotal role in sustaining a viable
economy at village level where two-thirds of the population live.The
coconut export earnings last year were Rs. 24,096 million, an increase
of around 22.5 per cent compared to 2006.