The Horticulture Department has prepared a Rs. 330-crore package for rejuvenating coconut plantations in the State. Coconut growers in the State have suffered a loss of nearly Rs. 600 crore this year, owing to moisture stress — a fall-out of cumulative impact of the three-year drought.

Development Commissioner V. Umesh and Principal Secretary, Horticulture, M. Shankarlinge Gowda told presspersons here that the proposed package would be placed before the Cabinet subcommittee headed by Revenue Minister V. Srinivas Prasad.

According to the proposal, the cost of the rejuvenation package would have to be shared equally by the State and the Union governments on the lines of the package implemented in Kerala.

The proposed package involves strengthening of weak palms by supplying nutrients and replacing withered palms with saplings of hybrid varieties, Mr. Shankarlinge Gowda said. The hybrid varieties would start yielding from the third year, he said.

Referring to Coimbatore farmers who had switched over to hybrid varieties, he said that the yield of the crop was around 14,000 coconuts a hectare against Karnataka’s average of 7,000.

A Central team, headed by Union Horticulture Commissioner Gorak Singh, had suggested that farmers in Karnataka switch over to hybrid varieties, he said.

Mr. Shankarlinge Gowda said that under the proposed rejuvenation package that was likely to be implemented over the next four years, every farmer was expected to get an assistance of Rs. 25,000 a hectare in two years.

Wood for furniture

As lakhs of withered coconut palms will have to be removed, the Horticulture Department is planning to spread awareness about the use of coconut timber to make furniture.