The first Leadership Training Programme for the office bearers of the Coconut Producer’s Society of Alappuzha district was recently held at SCMS-Cochin. During the 3-day Leadership Training Programme held between the 18th and 20th of September 2012, the Coconut Development Board (CDB) tapped into the management wisdom of the world-class faculty of SCMS-Cochin to churn out a local solution for the challenges being faced by the Coconut Producers Societies in Kerala. The Leadership Training Programme looked beyond coconut oil and kernel towards products that are nut-free, sugar-free, soya-free, dairy-free, gluten-free and nutritious, and could be produced from coconuts. Apart from training on how to manage their societies better, the members of the Coconut Producers Society were given a wide knowledge of how products like the ‘4% low fat cream’ has a great demand worldwide. The various other products suggested during the intense three-day churning were Palm Sugar for diabetic patients, and Virgin Coconut oil that has been effective against diseases like Thyroid malfunctions and certain strains of HIV as well.
On the concluding day of the programme, Jaison Sam Mathews, a student of Batch 21B of SCMS-Cochin and a member of the Media Relations Club, had the opportunity to chat with Mr. T.K. Jose (IAS), Chairman, Coconut Development Board, on the vision of the programme and what made SCMS-Cochin the natural choice to conduct it.
Jaison – Thank you for your time, Sir. Can you tell us in a few words about the CPS project?
Mr. T.K. Jose – The Coconut Producers Society (CPS) project is aimed at strengthening the coconut producers and farmers in Kerala. It is an initiative by the Coconut Development Board of India and it has seen success in integrating the cultivators.
Jaison – How was your experience working with SCMS-Cochin on the Leadership Training Programme for CPS members?
Mr. T.K. Jose – We were here for 3 days as students. It was a worthwhile experience in SCMS and the faculty members, including the Director, were very sincere and dedicated. They adopt a very different approach and teaching style. The management sessions were professional in a true sense; it even changed our behaviour system.
Jaison – Despite numerous subsidies available now for coconut producers, people are not willing to take up coconut farming as a serious profession. How do you see this changing?
Mr. T.K. Jose – This was true earlier. But now the government is very supportive. There have been numerous initiatives by the Coconut Board in giving all kinds of help for coconut agriculture. In the long-term, these Coconut Producers’ Societies – which are relatively smaller groups – will be motivated to come together in federations of 15 to 25 CPSs. The Coconut Development Board, Cochin, that sponsored this programme in SCMS-Cochin, aims to form 10 such federations in the state. Once this is achieved, these federations will be organised to form a producing company, for which they will be mentored and facilitated for the next five years.
Jaison – How do you see the relationship with SCMS-Cochin take shape?
Mr. T.K.Jose – To achieve this objective, the CBD looks upon SCMS-Cochin as an important facilitator. SCMS holds the responsibility for CPS in Alappuzha. It is a very good initiative by SCMS. This will help develop the industry in the district. Those who have undergone training in this Leadership Training Programme will now have to share this knowledge with their respective societies.
Jaison – Thank you so much, Sir. This is also a huge learning opportunity for the students of SCMS-Cochin, as we observe how an industry reinvents itself.