Timely help for coconut farmers in Gaja-affected areas

Coconut farmers with the saplings they received at Kalathur in Pattukottai taluk on Thursday.

Coconut farmers with the saplings they received at Kalathur in Pattukottai taluk on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: Hand Out

An interaction with coconut farmers at Kalathur in Pattukottai taluk on Thursday, who have assembled at a temple premises to receive coconut tree saplings and manure required for 12 months free of cost sponsored by the International Hotels group - Accor, in association with HOPE Foundation, Chennai and the Cauvery Delta Agro Producers Company, Thanjavur, revealed that the real impact of Gaja cyclone on their livelihood could be measured in the days to come as the crops that have withstood the nature’s fury have lost their capacity produce coconuts.

It was timely support but it all depends on the monsoon to derive the expected result, said the coconut farmers.

Though the very sight of the tree standing tall braving strong wind gives an impression that it had withstood the nature’s onslaught, the real story is totally different, claimed S.V. Srinivasan a farmer having two groves measuring around 3 acres in total at Thiruchitrambalam area near Kalathur.

The inflorescence and the spathe of the trees have suffered extensive damage as the tree heads were shaken heavily due to the velocity with which the Gaja cyclone crossed the area. “Normally, I used to pluck around 30,000 to 35,000 coconuts from an acre in a harvest earlier. But after Gaja this number had fallen drastically to 5,000 to 6,000 per acre because the spathe and inflorescence of the trees have been badly affected in the cyclone apart from uprooting of more than 100 trees”, he pointed out.

Expressing similar view, Suchithra of Kalathur who had lost around 400 trees in her seven-acre grove during the cyclone said the supply of coconut saplings by the International Hotels group through `Project Kalathur’ was a timely help as the farmers have now only cleared fallen tree trunks and levelled the field. Further, planting the saplings during monsoon period would help ease the process of watering, she added.

Stating that the future remains bleak for the coconut farmers in this region, Babu of Kalathur pointed out that the yield would gradually come down due to the damaged spathe and inflorescence of existing trees and after a year or two there many not be coconuts on the trees for plucking. “Even if we were to take up intercropping we need to be blessed with good monsoon”, he added by pointing out that the region had not received any rainfall, even a slight shower for the past 7 to 8 months, subsequent to the Gaja catastrophe. Normally, a coconut tree starts producing coconuts from the fifth or sixth year, he pointed out.

Meanwhile, the Human Resource Manager, Accor group, R. Sethumadhavan and Executive Officer, HOPE Foundation, Malarvili Prabath said their support to the coconut farmers was not going to stop with distribution of saplings. The progress of growth of the saplings would be monitored regularly and suitable guidance for the farmers would be provided through CDAPC, Thanjavur, they added.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 2:58:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/a-timely-help-for-coconut-farmers-in-gaja-affected-areas/article28094266.ece

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