With Kerala's ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) urging Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan to immediately ban the sale of Coke and Pepsi in the state , the humble tender coconut may finally get its due.
Despite the healthy, nourishing tender coconut being available in plenty in the state, sales have been low. Now, with the controversy over the pesticide content in aerated soft drinks from Pepsi and Coca-Cola creating a furore again, the government is going to redouble efforts to market the fruit.
"We have already decided that this is the best time to vigorously promote tender coconut water. I am calling a meeting of officials of the Coconut Development Board. I also wish to bring in the local self-government ministry to promote tender coconuts," said state Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran.
Coconut plantations occupy 41 percent of the net cropped area in the state and provide livelihood to over 3.5 million families.
Over the years, the area under coconut cultivation has declined from 926,000 hectares in 2001 to 898,000 hectares in 2005.
"If we can sell tender coconuts as the state drink of Kerala, it could also be a boost for people who depend on it for their livelihood," Ratnakaran told IANS.
The decision to ban Coca-Cola and Pepsi drinks was taken at a daylong LDF meeting here on Sunday.
Both Pepsi and Coke have bottling plants in Palakkad district. Both were given permission to commence production when the LDF under E.K. Nayanar ruled the state during 1996-2001.