Coimbatore, June 18 : Cocoa cultivation is becoming increasingly popular with farmers in Tamil Nadu due to its rising demand across the country and abroad.
To meet the increasing demand of cocoa seeds, more and more farmers here are taking to cocoa cultivation as an "inter" crop along with coconut to double their incomes.
"I am doing this coconut farming for the past 35 years. Few years ago, I came to know through my friend about the cocoa cultivation, which can be cultivated as an inter crop. In one acre, I had planted 192 plants. Now, I am getting three kg of cocoa seed per cocoa plant. We are selling all of it to the private buyers. I am earning Rupees. 45,000 per acre from cocoa cultivation," said O V R Somasundaram, a cocoa farmer.
To bridge the demand supply gap in cocoa seeds in the country, a major chocolate manufacturing company in the private sector has signed an agreement with the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University to identify the area for the production of cocoa and carry out other research associated with its increased yield.
"Our purpose of tying up with Tamil Nadu Agricultural University is to carry out a region specific research in areas of Tamil Nadu where coconut is grown to give better planting material to the farmers so that their yields improve and their income improves. That is the reason for the tie-up, " said Magudapathy, Vice President, Cadbury India Ltd.
Acknowledging the tie up, Ramaswamy, Vice Chancellor of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University said that 5,000,000 rupees has been allocated for research.
"They entered into agreement with Tamil Nadu Agricultural University to work on particularly identifying very high yielding varieties of cocoa, good quality of cocoa, cocoa, which is resistant to pest and diseases which comes under poor moisture and saline conditions. It is the responsibility of the university to identify these varieties and then promote along with cultural practices among the farmers," said Ramaswamy.
The cocoa industry's graph is slated to shoot up as the demand for cocoa products is expected to sharply rise in the coming future.
Since cocoa requires 60 per cent shade to grow which is available under the coconut trees, Tamil Nadu is the most apt place for its production with more than seven hundred thousand hectares of its land devoted exclusively to coconut cultivation.
Cocoa is the chief ingredient in the making of chocolates, health drinks and even pharmaceuticals.
The demand for cocoa has been increasing manifold in India. The present production of cocoa in India is around 10,000 tons meeting only half of the total demand of around 20,000 tons. By Jaya Kumar