Residual pesticides bring down coconut yield in Tumkur

Residual pesticides bring down coconut yield in Tumkur

Trees on 1.5 lakh ha affected in district; falling prices add to growers woes

Residual pesticides bring down coconut yield in Tumkur

Pesticides sprayed on coconut trees in the district in the last 10 years are having a disastrous effect on them now.

The trees, on 1.5 lakh hectares in the district, are rotting because of the residual effect. This has proved to be a headache for the growers, who are already reeling under the crashing prices. Coconut is grown on a total of 4.75 hectares in the State.

The pest disease had affected the coconut crops in the period between 2000 and 2004

The agriculture department had distributed the Monocrot pesticide to the coconut growers, so that it can be administered through an injection by making a dent in the roots, to rid the trees of the disease.

Though the authorities stopped the distribution of the pesticide subsequently, the residual effect is causing the death of the trees now, say the growers.

Of the 7.61 lakh hectares of the land fit for agriculture in the district, horticulture crops are grown on 2.05 lakh hectares.

Of the total horticulture land, coconut is cultivated on 70 per cent of the land, while arecanut accounts for 15 per cent.

Thus, the economy of the district is dependent on these two crops. Therefore, the fall in coconut cultivation has caused widespread concern in the district.

The disease is aggravated by shortage of rain and a decrease in humidity levels, an expert told Deccan Herald.

Lack of soil nutrients may also lead to the diseases intensifying, he said. The disease, mostly affecting the roots, spreads from one tree to the other through the soil.

Coconut prices are presently Rs 5,000 per 1,000, while copra prices are Rs 5,000 per quintal. The prices had looked up last year, but have come down once again, hitting the growers hard.

Meanwhile, zilla panchayat president Anand Ravi told Deccan Herald that the horticulture department had been directed to submit a report with regard to the withering of the coconut trees and saplings. Ravi said this was a result of the pesticides being sprayed to the plantations in the last decade.

A whopping 95 per cent of the coconut plantations in Tiptur taluk, which contributes the highest to coconut production, are affected by diseases, Ravi said. He said he had written to the horticulture minister thrice in the last two months and was awaiting response.

He would meet the minister next week seeking necessary action, Ravi said.

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