Growers seek disease-proof areca variety

Yellow Leaf Disease gradually spreading to new plantations

All India Areca Growers Association based in Puttur in Dakshina Kannada has urged the government to develop Yellow Leaf Disease-resistant variety of arecanut.

Stating that Yellow Leaf Disease is gradually spreading in the State to newer plantations in Puttur and Bantwal taluks in Dakshina Kannada, president of the association Ashok Kinila and general secretary Mahesh Puchchappady said in a letter written to legislators of Dakshina Kannada and Udupi.

They said that a few plants in the affected regions are immune to Yellow Leaf Disease. Hence, scientists should explore developing new varieties from such plants.

Yellow Leaf Disease was first noticed in Kerala in 1914. All these years, the disease was predominantly seen in Sullia region of Dakshina Kannada and Koppa and Sringeri regions of Chikkamagaluru district.

The spread to other locations now has created panic among farmers who are dependent on arecanut for their livelihood, they said.

Though the Kasaragod-based Central Plantation Crops Research Institute (CPCRI) has a regional station at Vitla in Dakshina Kannada, it lacks the facility to carry out research, they said and added that inadequate funding is also one of the reasons for the lack of focus on research.

Hence, the government should extend financial assistance to find a solution to Yellow Leaf Disease in arecanut plantations, including the development of disease-resistant arecanut variety.

They said that though the CPCRI has submitted a project to the State Horticulture Department on the need to establish a disease diagnostic laboratory at CPCRI’s Vitla Regional Station and on the management of the disease, the State Government is yet to give its approval, the association said.

The project, estimated to cost ₹3.10 crore, proposed the establishment of a state-of-the-art disease diagnostic laboratory at a cost of ₹1.04 crore and management of the disease at a cost of ₹2.05 crore.

Mr. Puchchappady told The Hindu that the Prime Minister had recently released 35 new varieties of different crops to meet the aspirations of the farmers. Now, arecanut farmers also want a disease-resistant variety to tackle the disease in their plantations.

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