The Goa government may have re-classified the coconut palm as a tree following protests, but the soaring price of coconuts – an essential food ingredient appears to have triggered a new spell of politics in the coastal state. On Thursday, women members of the Congress organised a flash sale of coconuts at the main vegetable market in Panaji to protest against the rise in its price – up from Rs 20 per nut to Rs 40-45 over the last few weeks.”Coconut is most important to Goa’s cuisine and the current government is not doing much to ensure that it is available at cheaper prices to households in Goa,” Goa Mahila Congress President Pratima Coutinho told reporters here.
“Therefore, we are selling coconuts at a subsidised rate to locals. We have sold around 250 coconuts already. The Mahila Congress will be repeating this exercise in all major markets in the state,” she said, adding that the rise in coconut price was due to hoarding of the nut by traders. In 2016, the then Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led coalition government had courted controversy by de-classifying the coconut palm as a tree. Following a series of protests and demonstrations, the incumbent BJP-led coalition government reversed the decision.
However, a recent spike in the price of coconut has forced the state government to look at importing coconuts from Sri Lanka to tide over the current crisis, but the Congress is now opposing the move.”We are against the import of coconuts from Sri Lanka. The government should instead encourage the planting of coconut trees and train youth to harvest coconuts to ensure a steady supply to the local population,” Coutinho said.