Though coconut is the second-largest horticulture crop in the State, occupying 31 per cent of the total area under horticulture cultivation, farmers, particularly in Chitradurga district, don’t have adequate market facilities. The crop is mainly grown in 12 districts of southern Karnataka. Each year, the area under cultivation is increasing by more than 1,000 hectares.
For example, in Chitradurga, coconut cultivation was spread across 46,440 hectares in 2003–04, and it increased to 49,218 hectares in 2006–07; 52,782 hectares in 2009–10; 54,268 hectares in 2010–11; 56,271 hectares in 2011–12; and 57,554 hectares in 2012–13, according to Horticulture Department officials.
The coconuts grown in the State are marketed to Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. Because of the increasing demand, more farmers have started growing coconuts in Chitradurga.
Tippeswamy, a farmer from Hosadurga taluk, said though the area under coconut cultivation was increasing, farmers had to go all the way to Tiptur or Maddur to sell their produce, incurring hefty transportation charges. This, together with repaying of loans, cut into their profits. He said that if the State government provided proper market facilities, the growers could save on transportation charges. “The farmers don’t get technical support from the Horticulture Department to ensure better yield by protecting the trees from disease,” he added.Coir production
On the other hand, department officials said manufacturing coir, a byproduct of coconut, could become an important cottage industry in rural areas. It could also provide employment to rural folk.
There are 330 units manufacturing coir products registered with the coir board, and they are located in Tumkur, Chitradurga, Bangalore, Hassan and Mandya. Of these units, 50 are fibre-extraction units, 30 make ropes and 30 produce yarn.
“The department had organised a workshop in the district to create awareness among the coconut growers on the importance of setting up a cottage industry. If any one evinces interest in setting up a unit, they can come out with a proposal and the same would be approved by the government and necessary infrastructure will be provided,” the officials said.
The State government opened purchase centres at Hosadurga taluk, said officials, and there were plans to open other centres in the district to help farmers.