UPDATED: APRIL 07, 2016 02:20 IST
This is owing to dry spell from November 2013 to May 2014
The Arabica variety of coffee plantations spread over 3,200 hectares in Karnataka have been affected by white stem borer (WSB).
The plantations have been affected by the pest attack owing to a long dry spell from November 2013 to May 2014 and resultant high day temperatures, according to Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Nirmala Sitharaman.
In a written reply in Lok Sabha last week, she said the incidence of WSB was lower in other major Arabica coffee producing areas of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and non-traditional areas.
Karnataka Planters’ Association deliberated on the WSB issue during the 56th annual general meeting held here a few days ago, pegging coffee bean production at three lakh tonnes for 2014–15 (post-blossom estimates), projecting lesser crop due to WSB against the Coffee Board’s projections of 3,44,750 tonnes. To avoid the spread of pests, many planters have resorted to uprooting plants infected by WSB in estates.
Several steps have been initiated to address the problem of pests in coffee cultivation. The government has approved a two-year action plan (2014–15 and 2015–16) for combating the WSB in affected areas. Various steps have been taken to eliminate the disease, including support for gap filling, raising coffee seedlings by growers’ self-help groups, supply of pheromone traps at subsidised rates, and a Mission Mode approach for enhanced education, training and demonstration on stem borer control measures.
The combined effects of higher temperatures, reduction of shade for increasing the yield of pepper grown as intercrop and lack of timely control measures by the growers have led to increase in the incidence of pest attack.
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research has included WSB as one of the components in its mega project — ‘Consortium Research Programme on Insect Borers’ — for implementation during the 12th Five year Plan.
The Coffee Board has supported a collaborative research project titled ‘Studies on Female Pheromone plant Kairomone on coffee WSB’ with a view to improve the efficiency of trapping adult beetles, said a PIB note quoting the Minister.
Department of Biotechnology has been implementing a project through the Central Coffee Research Institute, University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad, and a private laboratory on bio-technological approaches to identify potential Bt toxins against WSB, Ms. Sitharaman said.