Climate change, diseases sound death knell for areca cultivation in Wayanad

Production has dipped by more than 70% this year owing to an increase in diseases such as fruit rot or Mahali, bud rot, and yellow leaf disease

December 30, 2022 08:28 pm | Updated 08:28 pm IST - KALPETTA

Worker loading  disease-affected areca nut palms to Karnataka

Worker loading disease-affected areca nut palms to Karnataka | Photo Credit: E.M. Manoj

Climate change coupled with various diseases have sounded the death knell for areca nut cultivation in Wayanad, a major producer of the crop in Kerala

Production has dipped by more than 70% this year owing to an increase in diseases such as fruit rot or Mahali, bud rot, and yellow leaf disease, says K. Sadanandan, a farmer at Karani in the district.

Though farmers have applied bordeaux mixture two to three times, they could not tackle the bud rot/ Mahali owing to the drastic change in the pattern of rain, sources say.

While bud rot affects the crop alone, the other two diseases affect the entire plant, says Joseph John, scientist, M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation here. The change in the pattern of rain caused a sudden spurt in diseases in the past few years, says Mr. John.

Earlier, the diseases were seen in the neighbouring Kozhikode district but has now affected almost all areca plantations in the district.

At a time when the prices of cash crop such as rubber, pepper, and coffee have declined drastically, areca nut cultivation is the mainstay for many farmers in the district. Many farmers are selling the disease-affected palms at throwaway prices to middlemen for use in banana farms in Karnataka.

“I planted 500 palms on my two acres and got a sustainable income from it. But half of the disease-affected palms were sold two years ago at ₹100 each, a 15-year-old palm and the remaining palms were sold this year at ₹75 a palm,” says Asokan, a farmer at Meenangadi.

Agricultural scientists and department officials suggest many pest and disease management measures but the suggestions are yet to make any positive results. The condition of other farmers in the district is no different, he says.

“Now, areca cultivation is confined only to a few pockets in the district. Though the price of areca improved a bit this year owing to the low availability of the produce, the majority of the farmers will not get the benefit,” he says.

Top News Today

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.