Farmers hit by fruit-rot disease demand Rs. 50,000 per acre as relief

Hundreds of areca growers vented their anger against the government by dumping hordes of disease-hit arecanuts in front of the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC) yard here on Tuesday. Earlier they took out a procession in the town.

The farmers led by All India Areca Growers’ Association were angry that the government has not given them any compensation for the losses they suffered because of ‘kole roga’ (fruit-rot disease). According to the association, the disease had destroyed “more than 90 per cent” of crop.

Demanding Rs. 50,000 per acre as compensation, the association urged the government to waive all crop loans and declare a special package for those growers whose plantations had been affected by yellow leaf disease.

In a memorandum submitted to the district in-charge Minister, B. Ramanath Rai, the association said the arecanut growers had sold their produce at a rate below the production cost from 2000 to 2010. It forced them to go for crop loans. Though the farmers were hopeful of getting good price now, the disease had dampened their hopes.

It said that excess rainfall in the season had affected inter-crops of cococa, pepper and coconut.

Addressing farmers Ravikiran Punacha, chief convener, federation of arecanut and coconut farmers’ organisations of Karnataka and Kerala, alleged that the government had not given arecanut growers the importance it gave to those who grow onion, potato or tobacco.

He said the State government brought areanut under horticulture department while at the Centre it was under the Commerce Ministry.

Mr. Punacha said bankers were not sanctioning loans to areca farmers on priority. A.V. Theertharama, a farmer, alleged that the government was promoting only industries and neglected agriculture.

Mr. Rai, who accepted the memorandum, said he would take up the issue with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. Sullia MLA S. Angara was present.

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