Coconut ryots to get subsidy for termite control

MADURAI, MARCH 3. The Coconut Development Board and the Tamil Nadu Government have announced a subsidy of Rs. 19 crores for spraying "eco-friendly botanicals" to save 1.81-crore coconut trees in the State from the Eriophyid mite attack. The last date for the farmers to avail the subsidy is March 31.

P. Ramaraju, Joint Director (Agriculture), told The Hindu that a committee had accepted the three-round spraying of the botanicals, including azadirachtin and neem oil. The pesticide cost per tree has been calculated at Rs. 8.50.

Under the scheme, a farmer is eligible to get 50 per cent subsidy on the expenditure incurred on a tree. While a maximum of 175 trees per hectare could be allowed, an individual would be eligible to get subsidy for up to five hectares only. The termite attack, which started four years ago, initially affected trees in Coimbatore district and later spread across the State. It attacked the calyx of the tree resulting in reduced size and weight of the nuts, decrease in oil content and quality of nuts. The attack could have been naturally controlled but for the failure of consecutive monsoons, Mr. Ramaraju said. Earlier, monochrotophos was injected into the roots to control the mite. However, it was not so successful, since it posed a health hazard.