Post-rains, plantation sector tots up losses

Impact pegged at ₹2,100 cr. in Karnataka, ₹800 cr. in Kerala

Recent rains in Kerala and the Malnad region of Karnataka have left a trail a destruction in India’s major spice-growing regions.

Coupled with landslips, the rains have adversely affected plantation crops such as ginger, black pepper, cardamom coffee, nutmeg, rubber and tea. Though government agencies are yet to ascertain the quantum of loss in the plantation sector, farming sources said that the loss incurred by the sector is about ₹2,100 crore in Karnataka and ₹800 crore in Kerala.

Farmers cultivating short term crop such as ginger were relieved when they received good pre-monsoon showers in April. But ginger farms in Kerala and Karnataka submerging in floods starting June has dampened their hopes. Ginger rhizomes have since been affected by the soft rot disease. Heavy rains in ginger growing regions of Mysuru, Coorg, Chikkamagaluru, Hassan and Shimoga districts in Karnataka and Wayanad, Palakkad, Pathanamthitta and Idukki districts in Kerala in June flooded the fields.

“I have spent nearly ₹50 lakh to cultivate ginger on 10 acres of leased land but I am not sure if I can recoup even a quarter of the expense,” said Manjunath, a farmer at Kushalnagar in Coorg.

The rains wiped out ginger rhizomes on almost 5,000 hectares in Karnataka and 2,500 hectares in Kerala, Navrang Mohanan, president, South Indian Ginger Growers’ Association told The Hindu.

Impact on pepper

“Torrential rains have washed off black pepper vines in many parts of the two States. This will adversely affect pepper production in the coming season,” Kishore Shamji Kuruwa, Cochin Chapter head, Indian Pepper and Spice Traders, Farmers, Producers and Planters Consortium, said.

“High moisture content owing to [the] rains has triggered fungal diseases like quick wilt and soft wilt.” Pepper production may fall 40-50% next season, he added.

Cardamom plants cultivated on hundreds of acres have been destroyed even as the cardamom season has just begun. K.S. Mathew, president, Vandanmedu Green Gold Cardamom farmer Producer Company in Idukki said there would be a 30%-40% fall in total production this season .

The floods have also hit nutmeg, a promising crop gaining popularity in Kerala. Close to 80% of the 22,070 hectares of land used for cultivation were also affected.

The Coffee Board has launched a comprehensive calamity survey to assess the loss in the coffee sector, including crop loss, damage to plants, green berry dropping and shedding of berries owing to black rot disease, due to the flood, M. Karutha Mani, deputy director, Coffee Board (Extension) said.

However coffee industry sources said ‘Arabica’ coffee production is likely to fall about 30% and the Robusta variety by about 20% in the country in 2018-19 owing to the flooding and landslips in major coffee growing areas.

Tea production in July and August is expected to be very low because of the rains in most growing regions, Tea Board sources said.

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 2:50:01 PM |

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