Staff Correspondent

Cauvery Sene alleges citrus decline infection in cuttings given to growers

Madikeri: Members of the Cauvery Sene have threatened to lock the office of the Department of Horticulture here on September 11 in protest against the free distribution of Nagpur orange cuttings to growers in the district alleging that the plants are disease-infested.

Speaking to presspersons here on Thursday, sene district convener Ravi Chengappa alleged that horticulture officials were distributing citrus decline-infected Nagpur orange cuttings to unsuspecting growers under the Coorg mandarin revival programme and demanded that the supply be stopped and all the cuttings distributed so far be taken back. He also objected to the introduction of Nagpur orange in the district, saying that the latter had secured the prestigious Geographical Indication (GI) certificate from the GI Registry.

He also alleged that the introduction of Nagpur oranges in Kodagu had already proved disastrous at a private plantation near Siddapur town. Mr. Chengappa alleged that the infected plants were being distributed to growers here using funds granted by the National Horticulture Mission to Kodagu for the revival of the Coorg mandarin. The Centre had initiated programmes to revive the species, which was devastated by disease two decades ago, by pumping funds into research at the Chettalli Horticultural Research Station, functioning under the Indian Institute of Horticultural Research. Research was also being conducted at the Krishi Vignana Kendra at Gonicoppa. “How can officials from the Department of Horticulture spend money under a government scheme to bring diseased plants for distribution to growers?” Mr. Chengappa said.

Introduction of the Nagpur orange would not only defeat the purpose of the research being conducted, but also deprive the Coorg mandarin of the GI tag, he said. Mr. Chengappa also asked for proof from horticulture officials that the Nagpur orange plants were not afflicted with any disease. Sene members Ratan Kuttaiah, Sheshappa Rai, H. Shashi, Devaiah, M.M. Ponnappa, Mohan and Satish Rai were present.