Slump in demand, pest attack dent coconut farmers’ income

Horticulture officials to submit a report to government soon

Slump in demand owing to the sluggish market conditions in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, curfew restrictions and pest attack have made a dent on the income of coconut farmers in Vizianagaram district. Coconut farming is a major source of livelihood for the farmers from Pusapatirega, Bhogapuram and other mandals in the district.

At present, coconut farming is being done in 15,000 acres in the district and farmers need to invest around ₹30,000 per acre to harvest the crop worth ₹90, 000 a year. However, the restrictions imposed in the wake of coronavirus pandemic has put a dent in their income with the drop in demand and rate per coconut.

Farmers who used to sell coconut at ₹17 a piece are getting ₹12 to ₹15 and a well-grown coconuts is available at ₹10. They could not send coconut to markets elsewhere in the State from April to June due to restriction on transport. Even as the curfew was relaxed in July, the farmers say the demand is yet to pick up.

With the closure of temples, and eateries that used to buy coconut in bulk for making chutney, demand has seen a downward spiral, affecting the income of farmers. Further, the pest attack has worsened the situation.

“Apart from marketing of the produce, pest problems are causing a tension to farmers. Whitefly, an invasive pest, is damaging coconut trees quickly, despite taking steps to control it. We have requested the Horticulture Department to take the necessary steps,” says Mongam Srinivasa Rao, president of Vizianagaram Coconut Societies’ Federation.

Processing units

“The government should extend subsidy and financial assistance for setting up processing units as byproducts such as coconut milk, powder and oil will ensure additional income for farmers, apart from creating employment opportunities for villagers,” says Mr. Srinivasa Rao, who is also the president of Vizianagaram District Coir Board.

The horticulture officials have been touring in Pusapatirega, Bhogapuram and other mandals to know the grievances of farmers. They are expected to submit a report on the steps to be taken to control the pest problem to the government soon.

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