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Campco initiative to boost market share

Our Bureau

MANGALORE, Sept. 6

IN yet another bid to bolster their sagging fortunes, arecanut growers are now embarking on a `market activation campaign' which, they hope, will open up new avenues of profit.

About 30-40 per cent of the crop has been hit by various diseases resulting in a shortfall in availability.

Towards this end, the Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Co-operative Ltd (Campco) has decided to launch a campaign--which it has chosen to call `Samruddhi'--here on September 8. The campaign will be launched by the Union Minister of Sta te for Agriculture, Mr Sreepad Yasso Naik.

Addressing a press conference here, the Campco President, Mr B. Nagaraja Shetty, said the launching ceremony would also include the symbolic handing over of a container of arecanut for export to Pakistan. Campco had finalised a contract for the export of 10 containers of 160 tonnes worth Rs 60 lakh to Karachi through New Mangalore Port. Pakistan's annual arecanut requirement was pegged in the range of 1.2 lakh tonnes.

Campco was also exploring the possibility of marketing arecanut in the Maldives, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal, Mr Shetty said. It also hoped to sell cocoa butter in Malaysia.

Another marketing strategy which Campco hoped would make a difference was selling arecanut through Amul outlets in Gujarat. With all these market expansion activities, it hoped to increase its market share from 10 to 20 per cent by the end of the year, h e said.

This apart, Campco plans to embark on a `share capital drive' next month and has asked the Governments of Karnataka and Kerala to contribute Rs 7.5 crore each towards this end. Also, the Mangalore-based National Co-operative Development Corporation is cu rrently looking for ways and means of financing Campco in a bigger way.

On the procurement and sale front, the 21-member committee formed by all the arecanut co-operatives has decided to go in for joint procurement in Uttara Kannada, Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Shimoga and Kasargod. A meeting is to be held in Sirsi to chalk out a joint strategy.

Also, experiments are to be conducted in inter-cropping. `Pachouli', a plant which can be grown in areca plantations and has various uses in perfumes and ayurvedic medicines, has been chosen on an experimental basis. The Union Ministry of Agriculture is extending 25 per cent of the cost of cultivation as subsidy through the National Horticulture Board. On a trial basis, the crop will be introduced in the taluks of Puttur and Sullia in 500 acres and a buy-back arrangement will be finalised through local branches of Campco.

In an attempt to increase production, Campco also plans to experiment with more `potent' organic fertilisers. A fertiliser company is said to have come forward with foreign collaboration to find out how this could be done.

#Campco also plans to appoint an agency to undertake field surveys of the area under arecanut cultivation and production, sales and consumption patterns in India as well as neighbouring countries. The survey will also look into why countries as Indonesia and Thailand produce arecanut at rates cheaper than the production cost in the country.

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