Cadbury, TNAU ink pact on coca cultivation in TN

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Coimbatore, May 30 (UNI) The Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) signed an agreement with Cadbury India Limited (CIL) for a public- -private partnership collaborative research project to promote cocoa cultivation in Tamil Nadu.

Addressing the press after signing the agreement, TNAU Vice Chancellor C Ramasamy and CIL Associate Vice President K P Magudapathy said the initiative will help increase productivity and aid farmers in getting additional income of about Rs 40,000 from one hectare of cocoa plantation by intercropping in coconut/arecanut plantations.

He said India's requirement of cocoa is about 20,000 metric tonne indicating vast scope for promotion of the crop.The demand is growing at 15 per cent per annum.

In Tamil Nadu, the area under cocoa was 8,400 acre last year.

Cocoa has been given a major thrust for development in the state by the National Horticulture Mission.

He said they are concentrating more on the western parts of the state where coconut plantations were maximum. About 500 cocoa plants can be planted in one hectare under intercropping.

Mr Magudapathy said his company has signed an agreement with the state government to enable buy back of cocoa beans with a minimum price of Rs 60 per kg.

The company will supply cocoa seedlings at a minimum price to the farmers who can sell the produce to customers who offer the best price.

The company has signed similar agreement with Kerala Agricultural University for cocoa research and cultivation in rainfed areas.

Dr Ramasamy said the present project will be implemented at TNAU. The main objective was to develop high yielding, pest and disease tolerant and quality cocoa varieties suitable to Tamil Nadu.

Under the agreement, CIL will be extending financial support to the tune of Rs 50 lakh to the TNAU spread over five years with a possible scaling up in the near future, he added.

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