As part of expanding its cultivation area in the Northeast, the Coconut Development Board (CDB) of the country is introducing coconut cultivation in an organized manner for the first time Manipur’s Jiribam area.
There are also reports of introducing coconut cultivation in Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya. Presently coconut cultivation in an organized manner takes places in Assam, Tripura and Nagaland in the north-eastern region though there are reports of cultivation since long.
Sources said more than 20,000 hectares of agricultural area in Assam is dedicated to coconut cultivation. As a result, Assam produces 136.61 million coconuts in an average every year and becomes the 10th largest coconut producing states in India.
Coconut cultivation is also on across 4610 hectares of agricultural area in Tripura while around 470 hectares in Nagaland.
Otherwise Tamil Nadu which dedicates 4.65 Lakh hectares of land, contributes to 31 per cent of the total production of coconut in India.
The move to introduce coconut cultivation in Jiribam, a low lying area of Manipur bordering Assam’s Cachar district in a small scale was taken up considering the suitable climatic condition, Director Lunghar Obed of CDB, Regional office, Guwahati said.
In an interaction recently, Director Obed said that they found Jiribam as a suitable site for coconut cultivation considering its climatic conditions but ‘we’re not sure about Tamenglong (Noney)’.
“However we’re still exploring other areas including Moreh for the expansion of coconut cultivation,” he said.
“The coconut was grown in some places in the region long back. But it was not an organized cultivation earlier.”
Highlighting the reason behind the exploration of new cultivation sites in the north-eastern region, the regional officer felt that the Northeast has a number of festivals round the year and each festival requires lots of coconut even though it has other requirements.
Manipur also requires coconut for various occasions. Every year the traders import huge quantity of coconut not only from Indian states but also from neighbouring Myanmar during Ningol Chakkouba festival season.
After all coconut consumers from other states such as West Bengal and Bihar, prefer coconut from Northeast considering its (bigger) pujah sizes, CDB official said.
On the economic advantages of the coconut cultivation, he also claimed that rice cultivation in one acre area of land can produce about 10 tons of rice while coconut in such similar area can produce 30 tons of coconuts (a plant can produce 50 nuts annually) and the cost of a single nut is Rs 30 in Assam (Rs 40/50 in Manipur).
An individual can easily plant around 10-15 coconut trees in and around the rice fields.
In Jiribam, the cultivation will start in 20 hectares. If it is successful, more could be planted as the fruiting stage of coconut takes around 7 years, Obed said.
Interestingly the Central Agricultural University in Imphal, the biggest agricultural university in the country with 13 affiliated colleges is also doing certain research works on coconut in a move to provide other alternative crops for the marginal farmers.