Coconut prices and oil palm cultivation | Sunday Observer

Coconut prices and oil palm cultivation

27 September, 2020

Coconut growers are scared of oil palm (OP) because the cost of palm oil is 50% less than coconut oil.

So they brought up many unfair allegations against palm oil when India is planting it on two million hectares of land considering the economic and environmental benefits of oil palm.

Despite falling performance, coconut growers did not improve productivity and the nuts per palm per year remain at 48.

This is why Sri Lankan coconut oil is the most expensive coconut oil in the world. Prices can be checked on the web.

Because of adulteration of coconut oil with palm oil merely to bring down the cost of coconut oil, most consumers make coconut oil at home.

Coconuts and oil palm are from the same class in terms of plant classification taught in botany.

Successive governments have been planting coconut palms at the rate of 3-4 million palms per year for over 20 years. Despite this, national production remains static even today. Where has the national resources planning gone wrong ? Actually where have those palms been planted securely? Who is responsible for such a calamity?

Sadly, the agriculture census in Sri Lanka is taken once in 10 years. However, such a census can be taken within a day using satellite images and artificial intelligence. This is a timely need even to monitor forest cover and any other large scale development.

We have over 14,000 Grama Niladhari divisions and agriculture officers roaming around the country. Are they creating tangible value or should we strengthen them like we did to PHIs recently. What happened to those millions of coconut palms supposed to have been planted is another study cum investigation with the sole objective of improving our systems instead of penalising wrong doers.

Truth has to triumph. All must understand why other countries are planting OP when they too can plant coconut. Not all climates are suitable for coconut and oil palm is four times more productive than coconut. If all withdraw the wrong and venomous adversarial publicity launched against OP there will be over 30,000 smallholders to take to planting OP further to the 20,000 hectares allocated to Regional Plantation Companies by then President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The Plantation Ministry must maintain the same stand they took from the beginning on OP and fight against the fake CEA report that condemned OP due to the personal agenda of a rejected politician.

The Ministry should not succumb to political pressure but earn the respect of tax paying citizens by sticking to the truth.Dr. Parakrama Waidyanatha and other scientists are willing to meet President Gotabaya Rajapaksa if such an opportunity is provided.

Wherever OP has been planted the annual rainfall too has improved. It has to happen as per the water cycle we learnt at school. This is where the educational level of the politicians come handy. Like Ali Shabry said in his maiden speech we don’t want politicians who lead mobs but the truth. The truth should win for the people of this blessed country. Let’s do justice to this golden crop like it has helped many large countries.

The writer is a former planter and agricultural advisor.