Mangaluru, Oct 27, 2015 : Briefing media after a meeting of representatives of cooperatives, farmers and officials on oct 26, Karnataka Agriculture Price Commission Chairman Dr T N Prakash Kammaradi said, that the State government has issued an order constituting a technical committee to look into the possibility of constituting a separate Arecanut Board at the national-level on the lines of Rubber Board and Spices Board.
He said that in its GO - Government Order, dated September 10, 2015, the State government has constituted a 14-member committee under the chairmanship of vice chancellor of Horticulture University, Bagalkote. The committee includes representatives from Horticulture Department, Campco, APMC, CPCRI Vittal.
Dr Kammaradi opined that the supposed Board should be on the model of Coffee Board and Rubber Board having equal stake in Government of India and Government of Karnataka with regard to policy formation, decision making, programme execution, corpus fund contribution. "It should be controlled either by the Ministry of Commerce or by the Ministry of Agriculture," he added.
Heads of different cooperatives involved in the arecanut cultivation and marketing will be the members representing farming community from different states. In addition to the advisory function, the Board should lay equal emphasis on research and development, marketing, business and trade promotion. The legal issues and recurrent court interventions must find a special focus on the Board. The R & D efforts should focus on alternative uses of arecanut as well as in nutraceuticals, commercial extraction of tannins, fats and others so as to evolve socially acceptable areca products," he added.
Dr Kammaradi said, the Karnataka Agriculture Price Commission will urge the State government to announce a special package for the benefit of farmers engaged in paddy cultivation in rain-fed areas. The cultivation of paddy in rain-fed areas in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi is diminishing over the last ten years. The farmers have switched over to commercial and plantation crops.
"The Kerala government had announced a special package for cultivation of paddy in rain-fed areas. A similar package needs to be announced in the State. A team of officials and farmers will visit Kerala on November 2, to study the pros and cons of the special package for the cultivation of paddy and will submit a report to the State government. The native varieties of paddy cultivated in rain-fed areas needs to be developed," he added.
"The Centre has announced a minimum support price of Rs 1,410 for a quintal of paddy. The paddy purchase will commence from November. Apart from this group farming needs to be promoted to conserve paddy cultivation," he stated.
He said that a committee under the chairmanship of zilla panchayat CEO has been formed to prepare an alternative crop plan for Dakshina Kannada district. "The government is promoting cultivation of oil palm in Sullia, where the arecanut plantations have been affected with yellow leaf disease. The Horticulture Department will organise an awareness programme on oil palm cultivation shortly," he added.
The Commission has decided to make a scientific study on the production cost of areca and coconut crops. The Commission has already made a scientific study of production cost of 17 agriculture crops including ragi, jowar, groundnut and submitted to the State government. In the second phase, we will take up the study on arecanut and coconut.
Country wide policy : There is a need to frame a national policy for pulses, said Kammaradi. To a query on rise in price of pulses especially Tur Dal, he said, Karnataka Tur Development Board should be strengthened and brought under the purview of Marketing Department instead of Agriculture Department. There is a need to expand the area of cultivation of Tur Dal. The farmers grow Bengal gram and Black Gram. However, the area of cultivation of Tur Dal is on decline.