The founder of the Central Arecanut and Cocoa Marketing and Processing Cooperative Ltd (Campco), a multi-state cooperative society of Karnataka and Kerala, Varanashi Subraya Bhat died at his residence at Adyanadkka, Bantwal taluk, on Friday. He was 86.
He is survived by two sons and two daughters. Mr. Bhat lost his wife five years ago.
Mr. Bhat was born in a middle-class agriculturist family in a rural area near Adyanadka on June 8, 1927; he completed S.S.L.C. in 1942.
When there was a steep fall in the price of arecanut between 1970 and 1973, he mobilised the arecanut farmers of Karnataka and Kerala and promoted the Campco. The Campco under his stewardship, for 17 years, succeeded in uplifting the arecanut market and the farmers are now getting a good return. Mr. Bhat worked as the president of the Campco from its inception in 1973, up to the end of December 1990.
He was instrumental in establishing the first chocolate factory of a cooperative (of Campco) in Karnataka and Kerala at Puttur in Dakshina Kannada. Arecanut growers who were growing cocoa as an inter-crop in arecanut plantations were in distress when a private chocolate manufacturer who was a principal purchaser of wet cocoa beans from farmers till 1980 suddenly stopped purchasing the beans from farmers during the peak cocoa season due to slump in international price. As a result the price of wet beans in the domestic market had slumped up to Rs. 6 per kg then (now it is up to Rs. 40 per kg). Some farmers resorted to cutting cocoa plants. Campco entered the market at that time and began buying wet cocoa beans from farmers.
To create an assured market for cocoa Mr. Bhat opened a chocolate factory at Puttur on September 1, 1986. The then president of India Gaini Zail Singh inaugurated the factory.
He also established a copper sulphate manufacturing factory at Sagar to provide quality products to its members.
Executive Editor of Adike Pathrike, a farm monthly, Shree Padre said Mr. Bhat worked for rural development through Punacha Panchayath and was instrumental in providing the village (which had no communication facilities till then) with roads, culverts and bridges; he upgraded three primary schools and opened two new primary schools.
He had served as the president of All India Arecanut and Cocoa Growers’ Association. He had also served as Chairman of Cocoa and Arecanut Development Committee (Union Ministry of Agriculture) and a member of Western Ghat Development Committee (Union Ministry of Planning). The Government of Karnataka in recognition of his experience in Agricultural Marketing and Cooperation, appointed him as a member of the committee to recommend amendments to Karnataka Agricultural Produce Marketing Act, and of another committee to recommend amendments to Karnataka State Cooperative Societies’ Act.
Mr. Bhat had received many awards.
Dharmadhikari of Dharmasthala D. Veerendra Heggade condoled his death. In his condolence message he said Mr. Bhat was responsible for boosting the confidence of thousands of arecanut farmers when prices fell in the early 1970s.
Minister for Urban Development Vinay Kumar Sorake also condoled his death on Friday. He said Mr. Bhat’s “extraordinary” services had benefited areca growers and made its cultivation profitable. The All India Areca Growers Association said Mr. Bhat’s Campco had ensured arecanut cultivation thrived in the state, and has been the primary reason for the improvement in the lives of areca growers since 1986.