September 2 is celebrated as World Coconut Day in order to make people understand that this crop has a vital role in poverty reduction and to provide nutritional and health security, which is the prime need of this hour. Coconut is a rich source of Laurie acid and electrolytes. It contains many antioxidants and are also antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal. There are about 140 different products that can be made out of coconuts, which have worldwide demand. India ranks third in area under coconut cultivation next to Indonesia and Philippines.
In our country, 12 million people are dependent on coconut farming for their livelihood and the contribution of the coconut farming sector to the GDP of the country is around Rs 10,000 crore. According to experts, India stands first in production and productivity of coconut in the world and third in the area of cultivation. Andhra Pradesh, where coconut is cultivated in an area of 1.025 lakh hectares with an annual production of 1,678 million nuts, stands first in productivity and the scope for expansion is immense.
On World Coconut Day, the importance of this tree is to be propagated. The coconut industry is to be made more competitive by increasing productivity with better management, organic recycling, replanting and also by adopting an integrated farming system coupled with community processing, product diversification, value-addition and by-product utilization. Coconut is regarded as a life-giving fruit for its amazing properties. It reduces obesity. The fat in it reduces bad cholesterol thereby benefiting the over-all health of a person. Some people enjoy drinking tender coconut water while a few others enjoy the cream. A good coconut can give you more than one glass of water. It protects the body from deadly diseases and boosts the metabolism level, thereby extracting excess weight from the body. Moreover, coconut proves to be beneficial in relieving constipation as the fiber in it assists in digestion. Coconut milk is rich in iron and phosphorus which helps in building strong bones and preventing anemia. Coconut oil is also useful in treating malnutrition as it improves the absorption of minerals and vitamins. It is a good option to subside your hunger quickly as it provides abundant energy and makes you feel full. There are great opportunities and potential for production, processing and marketing of value added products of coconut.
Coconut is described as “Tree of Life” or ‘Heavenly Tree” because of its unique property by providing food, nutrition, drink, health, aesthetic sense, building material and other useful household material. On this “World Coconut Day”, let us share the importance of this tree by making aware of its intrinsic value in the life of mankind. Coconut cultivation is an alternative method of food production and paves way for employment generation.
Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)