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CPCRI Promotes Cocoa as Inter-Crop

According to the Central Plantation Crops Research Institute (CPCRI), to meet the steady rise in demand for the produce in the global market and to effectively tide over adverse market fluctuations faced by cultivators, there is the need to go for extensive cultivation of cocoa as an inter-crop in the vast stretches of coconut, areca nut, and oil palm groves in the country.

As Cocoa can be grown as inter-crop in coconut, areca nut and oil palm groves, it does not requires additional land.

The premier research institute under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is poised to host the valedictory session of its year-long centenary celebration and besides arresting weed growth in the gardens, Cocoa cultivation also helped maintain soil moisture and by shedding leaves it enriched fertility, said P. Chowdappa, CPCRI director.

Dr. Chowdappa said, “In the country, we have 2.13 million hectares of coconut, 4.85 lakh hectares of areca nut, and two lakh hectares of oil palm.”

Way back in 1969, the CPCRI introduced cocoa cultivation in India. Lack of processing units stagnated the cocoa market.

There was only one company, name as the Cadbury’s India Ltd. that procured cocoa beans to manufacture chocolate, during the 1980s. But now a days, there are a number of leading firms like Campco, Amul, and Nestle soliciting top-grade cocoa beans.

He said that, at present, cocoa cultivation could fetch an additional lakh per acre a year against the annual income accrued in the range of Rs.25,000 and Rs.35,000 per acre of coconut and areca nut produce.

He also informed that, to set up a bio-pesticide and fertilizer unit on its premises against the backdrop of Kasaragod, the institute has also received Rs.8 lakh from the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) and being declared as the first organic district and this unit was expected to be functional by next year.

To maintain moisture level with the State bracing up for an intense summer, farmers should use coconut husks around the palm base, he suggested.