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Coconut Exports – Filling wallets and stomachs

We are not the only one who is fond of coconuts, but even the world is fond of Indian coconuts. No wonder, even though the yield of coconuts has declined, export of coconut and its products have surged by 13.5% growth. According to the data released by the Coconut development board earlier this month, the exports of the coconut products grew by Rs 156 crore to Rs 1, 312.38 crore against Rs 1, 156.12 crore. However, the production of the drupe is expected to drop by 10% to 20,000 million. Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa and Andhra Pradesh are considered to be major coconut producing Indian states. To understand the equation between the falling yields and growing exports, The Dollar Business rang up to Mr. Muruganand, the Managing Director of Vashini Exports. “Yields basically depend on the previous year’s monsoon. If the rainfall is good this year, next year we will have a good yield. Last year monsoon was below average, hence production has declined,” said Muruganand. However, exports of Indian coconuts and its products are increasing as the global market is looking at India as an alternative to Sri Lanka. Muruganand says earlier Sri Lanka was playing a very big role in coconut exports, but “after the war period, the prices of coconuts sourced from Sri Lanka shot up because of less production.” In fact at one point, the Sri Lanka government even stopped production to sustain its internal requirements. India exports a wide range of coconut products such as Desiccated Coconut, Coconut Oil, Coconut Water, etc. However, lately, virgin coconut oil and sugar have gained a lot of attention about which Muruganand says, “These products were always present in the market but lacked awareness. Now, people are aware of these products and they have come into limelight and hence we are exporting it.” As per CBD’s data, India exported nearly virgin coconut oil worth Rs 24 crores in FY2014-15. So what are the benefits do these exporters enjoy for exporting merchandise products worth Rs 1,300 crores. “We get 1% of drawback from customs and duty credit scrip under MEIS (Merchandise Exports from India Scheme), which helps us get imports benefits,” replied Muruganand. However, he complained about tedious paper work. Furthermore, transporters also complained about the transporting. The shipment passes through various climate zones like Sri Lanka, Middle East, and Africa etc. Each of these countries has its own climate zone. The temperature of the shipment needs to managed, or else the taste of the coconuts would change. Hence, we deliver a lower quality product. This also restricts India’s opportunity to sell coconuts in Europe and US.