Prof Manjunath K Naik, vice chancellor of the University of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences (UAHS), Shivamogga, has said that the university is mulling over setting up of a task force of arecanut tree climbers.
A workforce of 25 climbers will be set up in each arecanut growing taluk of Karnataka for harvesting the nuts and spraying fungicide. The programme would be undertaken by the university in association with various organisations, he explained.
He was speaking after inaugurating a training programme for arecanut tree climbers – Adike Kaushalya Pade – organised by Campco, the ICAR-CPCRI and the UAHS at the CPCRI Regional Station at Vittal on Wednesday.
Drones on rent
“The university is working on spraying standardisation using drones. Four types of drones are being tested for the purpose. As the drones are expensive, it can be rented for a group of farmers at the custom hire centres,” he said.
There is a lack of skilled climbers to spray fungicide, which is a key factor in the inability to check the fruit rot disease (kole roga) affecting the plantations. The training will help solve the problem, said the vice chancellor and added that labourer can earn at least Rs 1,500 a day equipped with the training.
Further, he spoke on the need to take up research on the value-added products of arecanut. About 95 billion areca sheaths are available in Karnataka, which can be used for the production of plates. Tur dal and soya can be grown as a mixed crop along with arecanut, he added.
MP Nalin Kumar Kateel promised to hold talks with Union Minister Ananth Kumar Hegde on including training for arecanut tree climbers in the skill development programme of the Skill Council of India to issue certificates for the trainees.
Approval of modules
Directorate of Arecanut and Spices Development, Calicut Dr Homey Cheriyan said, “Labourers should have complete knowledge on plant protection measures to check kole roga. If the UAHS or CPCRI comes out with 200-hour training module for a 30-day period, to train arecanut tree climbers, then it can be placed before the Skill Council of India for approval, to get funding from the Central government. If the training modules are approved, then such trainings can be organised anywhere in India.”
Agriculture expert Shree Padre said, “Such training is much-needed. The training provided by the Elite Group in association with the UAHS at Theerthahalli was highly successful. The Coconut Development Board has trained over 46,000 persons who are now earning a decent income.”
Padre added, “On an average, 7 climbers are needed for arecanut trees on a 100-acre land to spray pesticides and harvest arecanuts. Arecanut is cultivated on 85,000 acre in Dakshina Kannada and 35,000 acre in Kasargod. Going by the statistics, there is a need for 6,000 climbers in Dakshina Kannada and 57,000 climbers in Karnataka.”
Campco President S R Sasthischandra appealed to the MP to take up such training programmes as a drive and impress upon the Central government to earmark funds in the budget under the skill development programme for the purpose.