Social Scientist. v 16, no. 158 (July 1986) p. 59.

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Coconut Economy of Kerala

COCONUT cultivation occupies an important place in Kerala. It is tflc second most important crop, next only to paddy, occupying about 24 ftkr cent of the gross cropped area as in 1977-78.

Coconut in Kerala accounts for about 68 per cent of the area under cocotlUt in India and its share in all-India production is about 66 ]>fcr cent.1

In 1973-74 coconut compared to other crops contributed the highest share of 17 per cent to the state's income.2 It provides employment to about 16 per cent of the work force in Kerala. Coconut also accounts for a third of the value of agricultural production in Kerala. Coconut is also the raw material for a number of important industries like coir and coconut oil. Thus it is right to say that coconut economy is the backbone of the Kerala economy.

According to the Directorate of Coconut Development and Trade, the annual consumption of coconut among the high and middle income groups was 430 nuts per household every year and among the lower income families it was 150 nuts per household per year on an .average.4 Assuming that in 1976 roughly 7.5 lakh households belonged to the first category and 27.5 lakh households belonged to the second category in Kerala, the annual household consumption would work out to 735 million nuts in 1976. Coconut is also used for religious purposes and some are plucked as tender nuts. Taking into amount the above two purposes for which coconut is used and the 5 million used as seeds, total use of coconut for all these purposes would be 800 million nuts in the state.5

The consumption study conducted by the Coconut Directorate concluded that middle and high income groups consumed 29 kilograms of coconut oil per household every year.6 In 1976 such households numbered 7.5 lakhs ; lower income groups which consumed 15 kilograms of coconut oil annually per household numbered about 27.5 lakhs households in 1976. Thus we get the total consumption by households in 1976 as 63,000 tonnes. The industrial consumption in the state is 2000 tonnes. Hotels consume another 1000 tonnes per annum.

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