Shettar seeks Pawar's intervention on areca growers' plight

Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar today requested Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar to look into the long pending issue of providing relief to affected areca farmers of Uttara Kannada district.

"I am writing this letter seeking your personal interest on pending issue of giving relief to areca growers of Uttara Kannada district," Shettar said in a letter to Pawar.

He said a proposal was sent to the Centre on January 5, 2009 requesting it to provide relief to areca growers of the district. In the same year, it constituted a team headed by Dr Gorak Singh to look into the issue, he said.

The team in its report submitted to the Centre in December 2009 recommended making areca growing a more sustainable operation by certain interventions to improve productivity, Shettar said.

He said some of the affected parties had filed a PIL before the Karnataka High Court, which directed the central government on Sept 25 last year to take action on the report.

Shettar said about 50,000 farmers have borrowed Rs 365 crore from about 75 cooperative societies and continue to default because of this crisis.

"Because of the losses suffered by areca growers due to unseasonal rains, drought and increased pest attacks, areca growers have lost heavily and are unable to service loans taken mostly from cooperative banks in the district," he said.

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