Coconut plantation, the traditional livelihood of coastal Karnataka

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By Victor DSouza, Doha
Bellevision Media Network

Udupi, Tuesday, 02 August 2011: Coconut trees are essential to the traditional lifestyle and livelihood of the people of Udupi and South Kenara districts of coastal Karnataka. As we travel along the coast, by road, train or air, we can see everywhere the coconut trees with its leaves swinging in gentle breeze. It is the most grown tree in these coastal districts. The tree requires abundant rainfall and tolerates the high salinity of sea shores.


It is a tree grows to a height of about 25m without any branches but with several crown like spread leaves on the top. It is one of the very few trees normally grown without any branches; the trunk has rings which show the growth of the tree in each year. The coconut tree grows well in the areas where it gets human presence. When the care increases it gives more fruits. The coconut tree is an integral part of the landscape of coastal Karnataka.



While the production of coconut has increased by 58% during the last decade, there is only 20% increase in productivity. Technologies to increase the production are available but a breakthrough has not been achieved mainly due to problems such as root (wilt) disease of coconut, failure to effectively transfer improved technologies to the farmers, irrigation problems, fertilizer application and so on.


The steady fall in coconut prices was a factor that compelled farmers to look for other crops that ensure better returns. Coconut price is quite low compared to sharp increase in input costs. So, small and medium scale farmers tend to turn to other crops and vegetables, which require less investment and guarantee reasonable returns in a short period. Fragmentation of coconut gardens into housing plots and as sites for commercial constructions are also a major factor that contributed to the shrinkage of area under cultivation over the years.


There is widespread misconception that coconut is bad for health because it is said to raise blood cholesterol and cause heart disease. But coconut provides a nutritious source of meat, juice, milk, and oil that has fed and nourished populations around the world for generations. The medical journals show that coconut, in one form or another provides a wide range of health benefits as per the modern medical science.


The green coconut plantation that form considerable portion of the coastal area, which has long provided livelihood for many generations, is fast losing its dominant role in the agricultural economy. The coconut farmers are not getting the support they deserve, they need to unite and address their issues such as get reasonable market price, subsidies, exporting opportunity, fertilizer and pesticides in concessional rates and technology to increase production.



Comments on this Article
Eugene DSouza, Moodubelle Mon, August-8-2011, 2:17
Another good article and fine Pictures from Victor.
Vincent Martis, Belle Mon, August-8-2011, 12:30
In Belle, coconut farmers are facing problems from monkeys, they sometime come in huge group and destroy the coconuts.
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