The exports of coconut and allied products have recorded an increase in the country but the activated carbon shipment has slipped 8% in the last fiscal year. Activated carbon, which is used in gold extraction and water purification, accounts for a major chunk of coconut products exports from the country.
The total exports registered 13.5% jump at Rs 1,312 crore in 2014-15. The activated carbon export of Rs 558 crore during the period is at value. Significantly, in volume, it plunged 44% to 54,345 tonne. The principal reason for the slump was the drop in coconut production.
Charcoal made from coconut shells are the main raw material for making activated carbon. "In addition to the paucity of raw material, the operation of an international company with branches in other coconut-producing countries like Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines has started affecting the domestic production. The company is able to reduce production cost by sourcing raw material from its other units," said MM Abdul Basheer, managing director of Indo German Carbons.
Around 24 companies, mostly located in south India, are producing activated carbon. They are dependent on coconut shells from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. "The prospects in the current year do not appear good unless the production gets better. Already many activated carbon producers have slashed the capacity by 50% to 60%," said Basheer, the president of Coconut Activated Carbon Manufacturers Association.
As per the survey conducted by the Coconut Development Board, the overall coconut output in the country registered a 10% fall in 2014-15. The fall has been severe in Andhra Pradesh, which faced multiple cyclonic storms, Kerala and Karnataka. The export of dry coconuts, however, has recorded an increase of 20% with Pakistan buying large quantities. "Pakistan and Gulf countries use it for edible purpose. There was heavy demand last year. However, it has tapered off a bit this year," said Mayilsamy, proprietor of Shrika Oil Industries.
Indian dry coconuts are preferred over the produce of other Asian countries because of better oil content and taste. Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Philippines also export coconuts to the Gulf countries. Pakistan used to buy more from other countries like Sri Lanka. But a shortage in Sri Lanka forced the country to increase purchases from India. The export of dry coconuts showed 20% increase at Rs. 194 crore in 2014-15.
"The demand is continuing despite the shortage of nuts. We export around 25 containers of coconuts to the Gulf countries every month," said Sujith, manager of Fair Exports India, which supplies to the hypermarkets of EMKE group.
Source : economictimes.indiatimes.com
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