Mysore heritage banana and betel to get boost

Brand crops Special varieties of jasmine, betel leaves and banana grown in Mysore region. dh photo

The Horticulture Department has initiated measures to boost cultivation of ‘Mysore Mallige’ (jasmine), ‘Mysore Veelyadele’ (betel leaves) and ‘Nanjangud Rasabale’ (a variety of banana) - which have got the Geographical Indicators tag.

The department has taken up the Rs 20-lakh project which includes constituting farmers’ group to cultivate these heritage crops of Mysore.

The project, aimed at expanding the area of growth, includes training farmers and distributing disease-free planting materials. A training centre will be built for the purpose shortly at the farm belonging to the department beside Kukkarahalli lake at an estimated cost of Rs eight lakh.

Deputy Director of Horticulture Nagaraj told Deccan Herald the GI registered in the name of the department will be transferred to the groups.

A group of 60 to 70 farmers in Udbur region of Jayapura hobli has been identified for cultivation of ‘Mysore Veelyadele.’ Udbur was once known for the special variety of betel leaves. Due to the onslaught of urbanisation and other factors, only a few farmers have continued to grow Mysore Veelyadele while others have switched over to commercial crops.

The fate of ‘Nanjangud Rasabaale’ was no different in the taluk. Banana cultivation was affected due to a disease - cesarium wilt, which is believed to have been the result of using canal water for irrigation. The disease once infected would persist for decades.

Nagaraj said the department is considering several new methods to increase soil pH for preventing the disease. A group of over 45 farmers has been identified for the cultivation of the banana and the registration process is underway, he added.

‘Mysore Mallige’, which was part of Mysore’s cultural heritage, has given in to a similar variety of jasmine from Tamil Nadu.

The department could find only five to six growers of Mysore Mallige so far while it requires a minimum of 15 to 20 growers to form a group.

The shortage of labour for plucking and supplying flowers to market has triggered the decline in cultivation of the jasmine further.

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