National Movement for Consumer Rights Protection blames CCB and CDA for increased coconut prices

Friday, 29 September 2017 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


  • Claims top officials at CCB and CDA are political appointments, have no interest to strengthen cultivation or find long-term solutions to address industry challenges
  • CCB Chairman says plans underway to implement MRP for coconut, not a ‘controlled price
  • Suggests new methods to use coconut in ground paste, ready-to-use cream, powder forms to minimise household wastage

By Charumini de Silva

The National Movement for Consumer Rights Protection vehemently denied that there is a control price imposed on coconuts and charged the Coconut Cultivation Board (CCB) and Coconut Development Authority (CDA) should be responsible for the increased coconut prices in the market place.

It was pointed out that coconut prices soared to over Rs.100 in the marketplace and the authorities were justifying the increased prices were due to the severe drought prevailed in various parts of the island.

“The CCB has no authority to impose a control price on coconut and if at all to do so it has to be named an essential item and has to be gazetted via the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA). The CCB Chairman’s baseless announcement on imposing a control price on coconut misled the consumers,” National Movement for Consumer Rights Protection Chairman Ranjith Vithanage told Daily FT.

Categorically denying CCB’s explanation on increased coconut price, he said the CCB as well as CDA should be responsible for misleading the general public.

Noting that CCB should play a more proactive role than distributing few thousands of coconut plants time to time when there is a shortage or a price hike in the market, he stressed that imposition of a control price was to frighten the retailers in the market to bring down the prices.

“Whenever there is a price increase or a shortage of supply to the market, the authorities just blame it on the weather gods without finding long-term solutions to increase productivity, analysing harvest related data and weather patterns. However, they distribute few thousands of coconut plants to show there is a CCB in this country,” he pointed out.

Vithanage also alleged that the top officials of CCB and CDA are political appointments and they have no interest in strengthen the cultivation or find long-term solutions to address industry challenges.

Although exporting coconut is important to earn foreign exchange, he claimed that the multinational companies engaged in this business are dictating the supply of coconut crop with the close relationship they maintain with officials as well as the plantation companies.

“Exporting is good, but not at the cost of local consumers. The firms engaged in exporting coconut are making most money and the returns are not even reflected in the industry or in the country’s economy. Even though the officials are saying that most of the coconut production is consumed locally, it is not so,” he added.

He called on the Government to implement a program that will bring down the coconut prices and to find long term solutions to improve the industry.

However, CCB Chairman Kapila Yakandawala denied that he did not make such a statement on imposing a control price on coconut and insisted that they were in discussions with the relevant authorities to introduce a maximum retail price (MRP) to mitigate any black-market prices.

“We are now in discussion with the authorities to introduce a MRP for coconut as a mechanism to streamline the prevailing high prices for coconut in the retail market,” he added.

He asserted that a coconut should be priced between Rs.70 and Rs.75.

When asked about the practicality of imposing a MRP for an agricultural crop like coconut which comes in different sizes, he said: “In general a coconut should weigh between 600 grams to 800 grams. So, nuts that are between 800 grams can be priced Rs.75, while smaller nuts can be sold at Rs.70.”

According to him the annual national coconut production in Sri Lanka varies between 2,500 and 3,000 million nuts, out of which nearly 70% are used for local consumption and only the balance, 30% are available for industries.

Pointing out there is a high wastage of coconut from basic domestic consumer, Yakandawala suggested new methods to use coconut in ground paste, ready-to-use cream, powder forms to minimise household wastage, while noting that it would also open up opportunities to a number of other coconuts based industries as well.

“Most households are using scraped fresh coconut kernel, compress by hand and by adding that cream for curries. But this method is throwing away a lot of what can be used. We want to take corrective actions, to educate coconut consumption in the domestic market. Thereby, each percentage saved from the local consumption, the industries can generate tremendous value added exports,” he said.

This way he believes it will not just open up new production companies, but also companies that would make money out of the wastage of the coconuts including coconut shells and husks.