One of the reasons for farmers drifting away from cultivating ‘harekala menasu’ is ‘muruntu roga’ (murda complex in chilli), according to Kishore Safaliga, a farmer, whose family continues to grow the chilli traditionally.
“Farmers are dejected due to the disease,” Mr. Safaliga of Harekala said.
Jokim Monterio, another traditional chilli grower, reiterated this view.
Thejesh, subject matter specialist, Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Yekkur, said that murda complex is a viral disease caused by thrips and mites. These pests suck the sap of the plant resulting in the disease.
However, Manohar Shetty, general secretary, Dakshina Kannada unit of Karnataka Rajya Raita Sangha (KRRS), said that another reason for the reduction in cultivation area of harekala menasu is farmers switching over to sugarcane cultivation after sugar mill at Brahmavar, Udupi district, opened in 1986.
“It was because growing sugarcane was profitable. Even now sugarcane can be seen in some patches in Harekala, Pavoor and Amblamogaru,” he added.
Mr. Safaliga said that sugarcane attracted less disease when compared to chilli. He said that the price of this unique chilli hovered between Rs. 160 and Rs. 220 a kg. in 2015. Nursery preparation of plants usually begins in September and farmers plant them in November. The first harvest could be made three months after planting. It yielded till April-end. Harvest could be made on weekly basis and the yield varied from farm to farm, he said.
Mr. Monteiro, said that he harvested about a quintal of chilli from 30 cents of land last year. “There is shortage of labourers now both for planting and harvesting,” Mr. Safaliga added.