Meghalaya Agriculture Minister Banteidor Lyngdoh on Tuesday said analytical work on the samples of the bud rot, a disease affecting the areca nut plantation, collected is being conducted in ICAR, Umiam in Meghalaya for which a conclusive measure to solve the problem is awaited.
Lyndoh was replying to a call attention notice tabled by Mawsynram legislator Himalaya Shangpliang, who has expressed concern over the government’s inaction to address the problems faced by the areca nut farmers due to the bud rot disease.
Lyngdoh informed that on August 22, a letter of confirmation was received from ICAR for NEH Region Umiam on deputing a team of six scientists headed by Dr S Hazarika, Principal Scientist, Soil Science for a joint diagnostic visit to the affected areas of Umsawrang and Dangar under Mawsynram C&RD Block alongside the Directorate of Horticulture.
Accordingly, on August 29, a team of experts comprising of Soil Science Scientist, Sr Scientist Plant Pathology, Sr Scientist Plant Physiology, Entomologist and Environmental Science Scientist along with the officials of the department had made a joint diagnostic visit to the affected villages of Umsawrang and Dangar under Mawsynram C&RD Block with the officials of the Directorate of Horticulture, he said.
Earlier, on August 7-10, a team of officers from Directorate of Horticulture visited the Directorate of Arecanut and Spices Development (DASD), Calicut and IISR, Kasaragod Kerala and discussed the issue of bud rot.
He said that the government is deeply concerned about the welfare of the farmers in general and the areca nut farmers in particular.
“We have taken several steps to compensate the loss to the farmers through alternative planting material and innovative solutions to mitigate the effect of the bud rot disease,” the minister said.
He informed that the department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare under the fruit development scheme has sanctioned Rs 6 crore 27 lakh for distribution of free planting material as an immediate relief for areas affected under areca nut plantation for the current year 2022-23.
The scheme is being implemented and it is expected to distribute three lakh two thousand four hundred numbers of banana suckers covering an area of 189 hectares, seventy-three lakhs ninety-five thousand pineapple suckers covering 170 hectares.
Besides these, the department has also kept provision for protection measures such as sprayers, bio fungicides, biopesticides and so on which will be taken up post the monsoon.
He said the crops such as bananas and pineapples are being distributed to the farmers depending on the location and suitability of the climatic conditions. These crops were specifically selected keeping in view the short gestation period as compared to areca nut and the need for farmers to find an immediate alternative to livelihood.
The minister said that the department is cognizant of the problem caused to the farmers by the bud rot disease which has affected the livelihood of many areca nut farmers in the state.
He said going forward, the department will give its full support to the farmers of our state using modern technologies like drones and providing planting materials and technical inputs, he added.