Staff, funds shortage make areca research a hard nut to crack

Only Rs 2 crore released to the centre set up in 2008 at Teerthahalli

The Horticulture Research Centre (Arecanut) in Teerthahalli has failed to meet its objectives even four years after its establishment.

The research centre, affiliated to the University of Horticulture Sciences, Bagalkot, was set up in 2008 at a cost of Rs two crore, with the sole objective of responding to the woes of areca growers. 

However, acute staff shortage has crippled the functioning of the research facility.According to experts, a research centre should have at least six technical staff and an equal number of non-technical personnel. 

But the one at Teerthahalli has only one technical person and others are working on contract basis.

The Centre is starved of funds too. Initially, it was envisaged that Rs two crore a year would be released for the centre till 2010. 

However, over the past four years, the government has released only Rs two crore and the money was utilised to provide necessary infrastructure for the research centre, which functions from a rented building. 

The Bagalkot University, to which the Centre is affiliated, lacks specialisation in areca.Gurumurthy, professor at the research centre, told Deccan Herald that several researches had been taken up despite a dearth of staff. “But, the results can’t be produced overnight. One has to wait for fruitful results in research,” he said.

Relief package

The plight of areca growers doesn’t end here. The Union government has released a Rs 3.8-crore relief package to the Horticulture Department to tackle yellow leaf disease. However, the money can’t be utilised as the produce was afflicted with inflorescence die-back disease in 2011. 

According to agricultural scientists, areca cultivation in Malnad has turned out to be an unprofitable venture over the course of time. 

More than fifty per cent of the crop was lost due to inflorescence disease in Teerthahalli and Hosnagar taluks last year. 

Paddy is the only alternative for areca in the region. 

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