That coconut oil is bad for health is mere false propaganda, says the state government.

Kerala swears by the coconut Govt to campaign against propaganda about the oils health risksImage for representation/ Courtesy:
news Agriculture Wednesday, December 07, 2016 - 16:07

The Kerala state government has decided to wage its own ‘Kera’ (Coconut) War to save the humble coconut oil from false accusations of causing ill-health in humans. Kerala derives its very name from the abundant presence of coconut trees all through the length and breadth of the state.

Addressing a gathering at VAIGA -a government-sponsored international agricultural workshop- last Friday in Thiruvananthapuram, state Agricultural Minister VS Sunil Kumar declared that measures will be taken to dispel misconceptions about the health benefits of coconut oil. 

This has also had an adverse effect on the domestic turnover of the state over the years, he added. The five-day workshop ended on Monday. Later speaking to The News Minute, the minister said:

“It’s high time that the state government does something about the wrong information being disseminated in public domains about the so-called harmful effects of coconut oil. The growing perception that coconut oil is not healthy, and that it increases chances of heart diseases are completely baseless. There is enough scientific evidence that prove otherwise. This is nothing but a well-thought out propaganda that has already inflicted enough damage to the state economy.” 

The Minister even went on to accuse the ‘soya bean lobby’ for such false propaganda. According to the minister, a full-fledged campaign is yet to be formulated. The government will however soon launch campaigns on ground to ensure that the masses are educated about the health benefits to be gained with the use of coconut oil, backed by scientific research studies.

The state does not plan to conduct any new research in this regard, as there is enough research material available to reinforce the government’s claim, the Minister averred. 

“Not just those outside Kerala, but our own people have unfortunately been unduly influenced, with many switching over to sunflower oil or olive oil. This is not a favourable trend. Keralites have always been traditional users of coconut oil for consumption. It is even fed to infants to keep them healthy. At a time when the US and European nations have begun to identity the health benefits of virgin coconut oil, and are including it in their diet, there’s no reason for the state to not follow suit,” Sunil Kumar said. 

The Minister believes that an intervention by the state government is the need of the hour, in the backdrop of a steep decline in coconut production.

“With low productivity and plunging of market prices, many farmers are now reluctant to continue or take up coconut farming. Plans to produce a number of value-added coconut products are also in the pipeline,” he shared. 

According to the data available with the Coconut Development Board for 2014-2015, Kerala despite having the largest area for growing coconut trees, both production and productivity have hit an all-time low. 

Kerala has nearly 640,000 hectares of land under coconut farming, but its productivity is only 7535 nuts/hectares, in comparison to Tamil Nadu that has 465,000 hectares of land with a productivity of 14873 nuts/hectares.