Farmers have been urged to form cottage industry units based on cocoa using technologies developed by the Kerala Agriculture University.
KAU Director of Research T.R. Gopalakrishnan said that the KAU had already released 10 improved varieties of cocoa, which occupy more than 70 percent of plantations in India.
“In fact, these varieties endowed with disease resistant qualities have helped rejuvenation of cocoa farming after die-back disease destroyed almost all plantations in the eighties. We are ready with five more advanced varieties and once the state variety release committee accords sanction, they would be available for farmers,” he said while addressing a two-day seminar conducted by KAU’s Cocoa Research Station in collaboration with the Directorate of Cashew Nut-Cocoa Development (DCCD), Kochi, at Vellanikkara, on Wednesday.
Addressing the seminar, Kerala Agricultural University ( KAU) Vice-Chancellor P.Rajendran mooted a farmer-producer company of cocoa cultivators for enhancing the prospects of cocoa farming in the State.
Dr.Rajendran said that such a single-door marketing mechanism would enhance the bargaining power of farmers and ensure benefits of farmers’ cooperative movement.
The Vice-Chancellor also stressed the need to train rural farmers in cocoa processing so that rural hubs in cocoa product diversification would come up in every district helping indigenous use of quality product. This will ensure maximum returns for the farmer.
“Cocoa, a cash crop, is an effective inter crop in coconut and arecanut orchards. It also contributes to soil nourishment through organic recycling. Thus proper approach in cocoa farming and processing can do wonders in enhancing farmers’ income”, he said.