CPCRI uses artificial intelligence and ICT technologies to improve the cost-effectiveness of coconut production.

ICAR-Central Plantation Crops Research Institute (CPCRI) is investigating measures to reduce the input cost of coconut to make its cultivation profitable and cost effective. The cost of production is currently Rs 12 per nut due to e.g. labour, fertilizers, irrigation and harvesting. It needs to be brought on par with other producing countries, said CPCRI director K. B. Hebbar.

“We are using artificial intelligence and ICT technologies to make coconut production cost-effective. We have already started using drones and developing sensors to determine the maturity of a pest. infestation and tree health so that we can take corrective measures,” he told Businessline in a chat. Hebbar, who is also the vice president of the association. According to the Coconut Development Board, Indian coconut production has declined slightly in recent years due to a number of factors, including pests and diseases, climate change and drought. The industry is facing challenges due to climate change, lack of skilled manpower, international competition, high production costs and price fluctuations.

At CPCRI, “We have reoriented our research to address these issues to create a level playing field in the coconut sector. compared to other producing countries. CPCRI is currently developing short and medium tall coconut trees that are climate resistant and processable, especially Neera and other value added products.In Kerala, most of the trees are old and tall, which requires skillful blending to climb.

They answered a question that the fluctuations in coconut prices are cyclical but prices have now started to rise. Urging farmers to look at product diversification more broadly, he said that value addition in India is. only 8-9 per cent and needs to be reduced. It should be increased by at least 20 percent to make coconut farming a viable venture. The addition would be very profitable if the prices of raw nuts come down. Hebbar, who was in Kochi to mark Neera’s first export shipment to the US, said India is the first coconut producing country to supply Neera with the developed technology. CPCRI collects, processes, packs and ships the product abroad. The lack of such technology in other coconut producing countries has forced them to limit themselves to their domestic markets. The future of the Indian coconut sector looks bright due to consumer awareness of the nut’s health benefits. However, the need of the hour is to focus on value addition to keep the industry afloat.

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