Farmers in Kozhikode, Kannur, Kasaragod to benefit

In a relief for coconut farmers along the Western Ghats, the State government has sanctioned Rs.2.6 crore to implement a contingency programme to control the outbreak of bud rot disease in three districts of Malabar region.

The fund issued through the Agriculture Department will be used to control infestation in 4,34,347 coconut palms in Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasaragod districts under the Crop Health Management Programme of 2013-14. However, a Government Order issued by the department on March 28 said the funds would be disbursed only after the Lok Sabha elections.

The Crop Health Management Programme is intended to develop a pest and disease advisory service across the State.

One of the components of the project is the implementation of a scheme to take control measures against the “sudden” outbreak of diseases and pests in crops.

The entire project has been sanctioned Rs.13 crore.

Bud rot disease has been a major threat to livelihood in the coconut farming sector, especially in the northern districts, and had claimed over 14,000 hectares of yielding coconut groves in the past few years.

Triggered by the fungus Phytophthora palmivora, the disease has been found to be severe in the highland region with its core in Kuttiyadi here.

Kuttiyadi is known for superior quality West Coast Tall (WCT) palms.

A recent survey by the department and the Kerala Agricultural University found that farmers had been crippled by acute shortage and high cost of labour to effectively implement curative measures.

Excess rainfall in north Kerala, absentee farmers, increase in soil acidity and reluctance to cut down affected trees have also contributed to the spread of the bud rot disease.

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