The price of coconut will remain high for a considerable period this year due to the drop in yield compared to last year, coconut millers said.
The price of a coconut fluctuates between Rs. 60-Rs. 70 with prices surging by around 20 to 25 percent within a short period.
Permission to export fresh nuts with a low duty such as Rs. 5 per nut without any value, is the the reason attributed to the severe shortage of nuts in the country. The annual coconut yield in the country varies from 2,500 million to 3,000 million nuts.
However, the yield last year dropped from around 3,100 million nuts to 2,500 million nuts.
Desiccated Coconut Millers Association Vice President Felix Fernandopulle said the drought that prevailed last year has a major impact on the low yield this year. Besides the lean season from December to March is also a reason for low yield.
The yield drops by around 25-30 percent during the lean season.
“It is not really the drought of the past few months that has caused the drop in yield but the drought during the past two years,” Fernandopulle said. Millers said there has been around 40 percent drop in yield due to adverse weather during the past two years.
Agri sector experts said the export of fresh nuts at low duty is a huge waste of foreign exchange to the country as more could be earned through the export of coconut shells, fibre, coconut water and husk.
“We had a good crop yield last year but the export of fresh nuts resulted in the shortage of nuts for the domestic market,” a miller said.
Millers said the crop will improve by mid this year but still it will be low compared to last year and prices will remain around Rs. 50-60 per nut.
The prohibition of blocking out large estate for sales has augured well for the coconut cultivation in the country. However, experts said ad hoc policies will have adverse consequences on the industry as it has been the case in the past where large swathes of land were segregated for sale.