The city-based Arecanut Research and Development Foundation (ARDF) is contemplating on promoting “arecanut mills” on the lines of “rice mills” for de-husking arecanut. This is to overcome the problem of shortage of skilled workers being faced by arecanut growers.

The foundation will organise a three-day mega exhibition of arecanut de-husking machines at Puttur in Dakshina Kannada in October. The event will also feature seminars on agriculture technology, with special emphasis on arecanut processing and cultivation. Other farm-related equipment and machines such as grass cutters, sprayers, will be exhibited at the Vivekananda Engineering College, where the exhibition will be conducted. The foundation has asked two companies to develop two types of arecanut de-husking machines, one for domestic use by individual farmers, and the other for large scale de-husking for installation in the arecanut mills. The foundation is managed by a trust under the auspices of the Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Cooperative Ltd. (CAMPCO). Of the Rs. 2 crore promised by the State Government to the foundation, Rs. 1 crore has recently been released for its research and development activities, according to sources.

S.R. Rangamurthy, executive trustee of the foundation and president of the CAMPCO, told The Hindu that there were 20 types of de-husking machines developed by farmers and others on their own. Some of them were costing up to Rs. 2 lakh. However, all such machines could not be used. They had their own drawbacks. All farmers could not afford to buy such expensive machines either, he said.

The proposed exhibition and seminars would provide an opportunity for arecanut growers and technologists to come together.

Technologists could suggest ways to improve machines already developed by farmers or they could develop new designs to suit the requirements of small and marginal arecanut growers, he said. Mr. Rangamurthy said that if the companies, assigned with the task of developing de-husking machines for mass use, were to succeed in their persuasion, various co-operative societies in villages could set up “arecanut mills” and help small and marginal farmers in getting their arecanut yields de-husked at affordable costs, he said. As a large quantity of the husk could be made available in the proposed mills, cooperative societies could earn some profit by selling it to industries, he said.Mr. Rangamurthy said that the dates of the exhibition would be finalised shortly. Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who inaugurated a conference on “Future of arecanut”, hosted by the foundation here on August 9, 2008, had sanctioned Rs. 2 crore to the foundation and had said that the Government would examine if the foundation could be given recognition.

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