Copra price rises from ₹14,500 to ₹7,000 per quintal in 8 months, giving coconut farmers sleepless nights

Tiptur in Tumakuru district and Arsikere in Hassan district are the major coconut markets of Karnataka. , Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The continuous fall in copra prices has given sleepless nights to coconut growers in Karnataka. They claim that the current price in the market is insufficient to even cover the input cost.

In November 2022, the price of copra was around Rs 14,500 per quintal. The price decline started in December 2022. The price has been hovering around ₹8,000 per quintal for the last six months. According to growers, as of July 10, ball copra was sold for ₹7,000 in the Channarayapatna market in Hassan district.

Ramachandra, a coconut grower from Valagerahalli in Channarayapatna taluk, takes care of 500 coconut trees. “Considering the cost of cultivation and human labour, farmers should get at least ₹25,000 per quintal of copra. But, the value of human labor and land is never taken into account. The current price is insufficient to meet our regular expenses, forget about being able to repay the loan,” he said.

Coconut is grown on more than 6.46 lakh hectares of land across Karnataka, and the production of ball copra is about 2.18 lakh metric tonnes per annum. In the Legislature session also there was a debate on the fall in the price. Legislators representing coconut growing areas sought financial incentives for growers, apart from an MSP of ₹11,750 per quintal.

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

In August 2022, the state government recommended fixing the minimum support price at ₹16,730 per quintal to the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices. “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.

Coconut Producer Sangharsh Samiti of Channarayapatna has written a letter to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah in support of this demand. Further, the committee wants the government to fix the price of copra as per the Dr. MS Swaminathan Commission report, which suggested an MSP 50% higher than the average cost of production, to announce a special package for coconut growers and measures to prevent corruption in copra procurement through NAFED.