Nanjangud banana on slippery ground

Nanjangud banana on slippery ground

A MATTER OF TASTE: The Nanjangud  banana is known for its unique taste. But, conditions are not favourable enough for growing the banana, and to match the huge demand that it generates. Today, a situation has cropped up where it is difficult to ensure that this variety does not disappear altogether. The banana that is growing in Nanjangud taluk’s Devarasanahalli has a special taste, and there is a greater demand for bananas grown in this village.

During the 1980s, huge tracts of land, covering thousands of acres were used for banana cultivation in Devarasanahalli and nearby areas. Farmers used water from Halasinakere. A dam was built across the Kapila river near Beechanahalli in H D Kote taluk, in 1975.

Later, the Kabini right bank canal was constructed. The canal passed through Nanjangud taluk as well. It was this canal that fed the fields of farmers in Devarasanahalli and surrounding areas.

After this development, a pest called Panama attacked the banana crop in the region. The pest attack increased and the yield started to decrease. Slowly, farmers in the region started to give up rasabaale cultivation, points out senior official Shivalingappa.

Banana cultivation does not require a lot of water. Instead of a steady flow of water, it is ideal to use water from irrigation pumpsets when water is required, points out Nanjangud farmer N K Jayakumar, who himself grows rasabaale.

He owns ten acres of dry land near Kodi Narasipura and has an irrigation pumpset too. But, he doesn’t grown rasabaale as a single crop.

Apart from his 200 banana plants, he also raises elakki and pacchabaale (other varieties of banana).

Jayakumar follows organic methods of cultivation. Each banana cluster in his farm bears about 80 to 100 bananas.  When the crop succeeds, each plant fetches him about Rs 150-Rs 200, explains Jayakumar.

Jayakumar explains that he has grown 200 banana plants in Kodi Narasipura and 400 plants in land near Halladakeri. He has raised six crops of elakkibaale too. The Horticulture Department is trying hard to ensure that the rasabaale doesn’t fade away.

A Rasabaale Growers’ Association has also raised its head in March. The Association hopes to encourage more farmers to take up cultivation of the rasabaale. Today, Nanjangud has only about ten acres of land where rasabaale is grown.

The Horticulture Department of Bangalore’s Agriculture University has developed 50,000 banana saplings in their tissue culture lab, and these will be distributed to farmers of Nanjangud taluk on a priority basis.

This has brought much cheer to farmers here. Under the National Horticultural Mission’s scheme, rasabaale growers will get support to raise their crops.

Today, the rasabaale that is grown is not sufficient even for the Nanjangud market. One banana here fetches Rs three-four. The same banana fetches Rs six to eight in the Mysore market.

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