IMPHAL, Jan 19 - The Coconut Development Board (CDB) of the country, through its regional office in Guwahati and the State Horticulture and Soil Conservation Department, is introducing coconut cultivation in an organised manner for the first time in the Jiribam area.
Lunghar Obed, CDB Director, regional office, Guwahati, revealed the initiative to expand the coconut cultivation area on the sidelines of a regional agriculture fair in Imphal recently.
The North East celebrates a number of festivals round the year and each festival requires lots of coconuts apart from other things, said Obed. Consumers of other States like West Bengal and Bihar prefer coconuts from the North East due to their larger size, he added.
The CDB has started to explore the North Eastern region, including Manipur, for the cultivation of coconuts. “We found Jiribam a suitable site for coconut cultivation considering its climatic conditions, but we are not sure about Tamenglong (Noney),” Obed said. “We are exploring other areas, including Moreh, for expansion of coconut cultivation.”
Though coconut has been grown at some places in the region, it is not an organised cultivation.
On the economic advantages of coconut cultivation, the CDB regional officer pointed out that while rice cultivation on one acre of land produces about 10 tonnes of rice, coconut palms in a similar area can produce 30 tonnes of yield (a palm can produce 50 nuts annually) and the cost of a single coconut 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 CDB and the State Horticulture Department are planning to plant coconut trees on 20 hectares of land.
The Central Agricultural University, Iroisemba, which is the biggest agricultural university in the country with 13 affiliated colleges, is also doing research works on coconuts in a move to provide other alternative crops for marginal farmers of the State. According to CDB sources, coconut is currently cultivated only in Assam (20 ha), Tripura (4.61 ha) and Nagaland (.47 ha) in the North East.