Farmers in Mattu and surrounding villages are a distraught lot as their ‘mattu gulla’ vegetable has come under of the attack of shoot and fruit borer (Leucinodes orbonalis) pest.

The ‘mattu gulla’, a special type of brinjal (eggplant), is grown exclusively in and around Mattu village near Udupi. This vegetable, which enjoys the Geographical Indication (GI) tag, is most sought after as its taste is different from other brinjal varities.

Legend has it that Sri Vadiraja (1480-1600) of Sode Math, one of the ‘Ashta Maths’ of Udupi, gave the seeds of this special brinjal to farmers of Mattu to cultivate. They have been cultivating this vegetable here for over 400 years now.

Nearly 200 farmers grow this brinjal on about 150 acres in Mattu, Kopla, Kaipunjal, and Pangala. According to the Mattu Gulla Growers Association, nearly 40 per cent of the farmers had lost a major portion of their crop to the pest, which they call ‘kanda hula’ in Kannada.

Leelavati Poojary, who grows the vegetable in her 40 cents of land, said that she had lost nearly 90 per cent of her crop. “It is a loss of time, energy and money spent on labour and fertilizers. The only alternative is to remove the existing crop and sow the seeds once again. By then, the price for the vegetable would have decreased,” she said.

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