Kodagu orange is in the blues

Kodagu oranges are known for their flavour and aroma.

Affected by diseases, the Kodagu orange, known for its flavour and aroma, is gradually vanishing as growers are not keen on cultivating the fruit.

The orange had a pan-India appeal and was in great demand. Today, the traditional orchards in the rural areas where the orange is grown, wear a pale look due to the infestation of diseases.

Although December is the harvesting time, Kodagu orange can be cultivated from February to March as well. Normally, oranges are harvested twice in a year. However, harvesting in winter is most sought after.

Due to the acute shortage of labourers, the growers are handing over to contractors the responsibility of the entire orchard and sell the produce to the market.

The orange was grown on one lakh acres 20 years ago as an alternative crop in coffee plantations. Not less than 1,000 containers of orange were fetched in the past. 

After the greening disease hit the orange in 1999, the production fell drastically. The disease had spread from Kerala. Even though the greening disease is presently under control, the fruit growers began losing interest in its cultivation. 

The growers no longer consider orange cultivation profitable. Earlier, the trees were grown to provide shade in the coffee plantations. Since the lure of orange reduced, these growers began to ignore them. Presently, these trees due to lack of nurturing and care, are being hit by the yellow leaf disease.

The disease-infected trees eventually dry up and die. Adding to the problem, the Loranthus, a parasite that spreads on to the orange trees sucks all nutrition from them.

Agriculturist Machaiah from Pulikotu village said that the Horticulture department has been distributing orange saplings to farmers at subsidised rates. But there are very few takers and the traditional orange orchards have lost their sheen, he added.

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