Jacob Matthan (Jacob's Blog) of Oulu, Finland, has left the following comment on my post ‘Kerala: Of monkeys and nuts’:
“This is quite disturbing. In all our supermarkets the number of coconut related products is increasing exponentially. The number of brands of coconut milk hitting the shelf are growing by the day. And each supermarket is bringing in its own brand. Coconut sweets are also becoming very popular. The products are coming from primarily Thailand which has learnt to exploit the western tastes at good profit. I hope Indian growers in Kerala can get together like the grape growers in Maharashtra as we are really seeing a trend here which must be allowed to become an accepted trend. Then the marginal cost of a coconut plucker should fade into oblivion!”
In 1985 I traveled to Stockholm, Sweden, to visit a research company named Scarab, which was doing a great deal of study into coconut products and processing. The CEO (forget his name) of that company was kind enough to pick me up from the airport. He told me to choose at random any one of the several supermarkets we would be passing en route to my hotel.
I was amazed to find an array of coconut-based products on display at the shop
that we went into. There was not a single one from India. The CEO told me that value adding to the coconuts was the way to the survival of the coconut sector in Kerala. He also explained that from their research they had found coconut oil was the ideal base for high quality suntan lotion and that income from coconut trees could be increased by twenty times.
On return to Kerala I tried to organize a project on the lines the Scarab chief had suggested. Unfortunately I couldn’t generate enough enthusiasm. While discussing the coconut situation yesterday at Olavipe, my brother Jacob came out with an answer. Today money comes to Kerala through mail from expats. Those back home still lead a laid back life. Why bother about coconuts?
Last Saturday at my club, a friend who deals in tiles mentioned that he is now importing coconut wood tiles from Philippines! They come in three grades – 30 years old wood, 50 years old, and 70 years old. And they are popular in Kerala, the land of coconuts!
Also see: Kerala photos: Coconut palms