Lashed by heavy rains and plagued with monkey attacks this season, coconut plantations in Goa have faced a crop loss, owing to which there is a shortage of the nuts in the local market, experts said.
“Owing to the heavy rains last year, the flowering and fruiting of the crop has been affected, hitting coconut production. The crop currently available in the market is the produce harvested from the year before last,” said Sandeep Faldesai, managing director of the Goa state horticulture corporation limited.
While the corporation does not sell subsidized coconuts like other products, the prices of the nuts are still lower at its outlets, when compared to retail rates. Currently, coconut rates vary from Rs 17 to 22 per piece at the horticulture outlets.
“The rates are not likely to stabilize until April. We expect a fresh harvest of coconuts in March, which may help tackle the shortage,” Faldesai said.
In the retail market, coconut prices vary from Rs 15 to 30 per piece, depending on size and quality- some of the biggest coconuts may even be sold at Rs 4O.
“Coconuts are a staple in the Goan kitchen, used in most curries and desserts. Due to the demand, the prices are likely to increase further, if the supply does not stabilize,” vendors said.
Agriculture director Madhav Kelkar told TOI that some coconut plantations in Goa were infested with whitefly, a pest that has caused damage to the coconut palm’s leaves but has not affected the crops’ yield.
He attributed the coconut shortage to animal attacks.
“In villages in Sattari taluka, coconut plantations are reeling under monkey attacks. The monkeys eat the tender coconuts even before maturity and then discard them- proving to be one of the major reasons for the crop loss. Due to the shortage triggered by the simian pests, there is a rise in coconut prices in the markets,” he said.
Source – https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com