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Sri Lanka expects big coconut crop after heavy rains
05 Jan, 2009 12:38:03
Jan 05, 2009 (LBO) - Heavy rains in Sri Lanka last year should ensure an adequate coconut crop for 2009 that would be enough to meet the demands of both domestic consumers as well as export industry, a senior official said.
Coconut Cultivation Board chairman Jayantha Gunathilake said he does not expect the crop to drop drastically during the usual lean period in the months immediately ahead.

Rainfall has a lagged effect on coconut crops with the delay usually being around a year.

"During the last three years we had good rainfall," said Gunathilake. "That’s why we're getting reasonably high yields.

"Usually December-February is a period of lean crop. But this year the crops are the same as August."

Gunathilake expects no significant reduction in the December - January crop.

He said abundant crops meant a large number of nuts went unsold in recent months as growers withdrew from auctions owing to low prices.

"In the market at present more than 50-75 million nuts remain unsold. There are excess nuts."

During the high cropping months of August about half the nuts sent to the auctions remained unsold.

"This was because of the uncertainty in the oil market and because prices were so low estate owners withdrew nuts," Gunathilake said.

Most of the local production goes for domestic consumption because of the heavy users of coconuts in the local food.

The balance goes for industries like coconut oil, desiccated coconut, and coconut milk products.

Edible oil prices have plummeted after a commodity bubble collapsed in 2008, depressing coconut oil prices as well as substitutes such and palm and other vegetable oils.

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