A total of 22 hectares, 4,000 trees, and 50 farmers were covered

Bud rot is a fatal fungal disease affecting coconut trees. Young trees are more susceptible particularly during the monsoon.

With this infestation, the spear leaf becomes pale and breaks at the base and hangs down.

The tender leaf base and soft tissues of the crown rot into a slimy mass of decayed material emitting foul smell. The rotting progresses downwards, affecting and killing the entire tree.

Lack of awareness about the disease and its management practice is also leading to a disease spread. Individual prevention adoption by few farmers here and there is ineffective as coconut is cultivated almost throughout Kannur region in Kerala.

Severe spread

The spread of the disease is so severe that 14,350 hectares of coconut growing area is infected by this lethal menace.

“Bud rot is a serious problem throughout Kannur district and prophylactic chemical treatment proves to be effective.

“During 2007-08 we have successfully demonstrated this technology in Ayyankunnu Panchayath. However the disease was rampant in other agro- ecological zones also and it was found necessary as per the demands of farmers to conduct demonstrations in different regions to curb the spread of the disease,” says Dr.Abdul Kareem, Programme Coordinator, Kerala agricultural University, Kahirangad.

“We planned and implemented a frontline demonstration (FLD) of perforated plastic sachets containing 2-3 grams Mancozeb, two sachets per palm tied on the inner side of the spear leaf, spraying of bordeaux mixture on affected portion as well as neighbouring trees, removal and destruction of affected portions and application of bordeaux paste for combating the problem for four consecutive years (from 2007-8 to 2010-11),” he explains.

For this demonstration, two regions Koralai and Kolacherry, were selected; farmers were identified, group discussions, trainings and method demonstrations were done. A total of 22 hectares, 4,000 trees, and 50 farmers were covered under this.

Control measures

The Krishi Vigyan Kendra at Kannur areas has adopted farmer participatory extension approach, named as Compact Area Group Approach, which is now popularly known by its acronym, CAGA to control bud rot disease. CAGA promoted and sustained group action in a contiguous area for durable adoption of control measures by solving several hurdles.

Preparation of plastic sachets manually is a cumbersome process since a lot of holes have to be made on the sachets. To overcome this problem a small machine has been fabricated to puncture holes continuously on plastic tubes of 3-inch width.

This tube is cut into required length and filled with two gms of mancozeb and tied at ends. Cost of production of this sachet works out to only Rs. 2.50 per sachet.

The Department of agriculture helped arrangement of climbers in a few panchayaths at a cost of Rs. 10 per tree and in the remaining areas KVK helped farmers to arrange for climbers by themselves.

Coconut tree climbers are the only persons who see and feel the extent and magnitude of the disease incidence in the tree as they climb.

Decision-making on their part was very important for application of control measures in an effective manner.

Training the climbers

“Therefore the climbers were made conversant with all aspects of the technology like understanding magnitude of disease incidence, handling of sachets, placement and tying method of sachets, importance of cleaning methods, preparation of mixture and paste, areas and method to apply it etc,” says Dr. Kareem.

Integrated disease management focuses not only on application of chemical but also on maintaining health of plant.

The health of the plant is mainly attributed to the proper nutrition for the plant. During farmers’ meetings conducted in the CAGA approach, a lacuna in application of organic matter came up.

Recommended dosage of organic manure (25kg/ tree) cost more than Rs. 50 and farmers were not applying the manure. In this context scientists introduced a very cost effective technology of insitu green manuring using cowpea seeds.

Organic manure

Only 100 gm of cowpea seeds are required for one coconut basin to be sown at the onset of monsoon to produce 25 kg of biomass within few months. Thus cost of organic manure came down to Rs. 5 from Rs. 50.

Application of sachets, when clubbed with harvest before monsoon season, reduced the cost of application. Coconut growers throughout the district were made aware about the bud rot management practices through wide publicity.

Adoption level of farmers increased to 100 per cent due to the visualised effect of control measures recording very positive results.

For details contact Dr.Abdul Kareem, Programme Coordinator, Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Kannur, Kerala Agricultural University, Kanhirangad PO: 670142, email:kvkpanniyur@rediffmail.com, mobiles: 09995020782 and 0460-2226087.