Hit by Fani, coconut farmers stare at an uncertain future
In Puri district, 11.59 lakh coconut trees were damaged. As many as 1.96 lakh were uprooted in Khurdha district. In Jajpur district, 14,910 coconut trees fell.Updated: May 21, 2019 07:57 IST
Apart from a poultry farm Niranjan Mohapatra owns at Dhanipur in Odisha’s Puri, his coconut trees provided him a secondary source of income. The cyclone Fani that hit the Odisha coast on May 3 either fully or partially damaged all the 25 coconut trees in his garden.
Many like Mohapatra have just begun to come to terms with the scale of the losses they have suffered. His neighbour, Amulya Behera, a coconut farmer, too, suffered heavy losses. “I have been pushed back by at least 10 years,” said Behera.
According to the state horticulture department, the cyclone damaged at least 1.4 million coconut palms. “The damages to the coconut palms have been extensive. None of the coconut trees can withstand wind of 150-200 km per hour. The maximum damage has happened in Puri, the biggest grower of coconuts,” said state horticulture department director BK Upadhyay. “But these are preliminary estimates.”
In Puri district, 11.59 lakh coconut trees were damaged. As many as 1.96 lakh were uprooted in Khurdha district. In Jajpur district, 14,910 coconut trees fell.
Officials said the coconut crop is not covered under any insurance policy as it is not seasonal.
Damodar Mohapatra, another farmer from Puri’s Baligoradi village, said he lost almost all his coconut grove. A day after the cyclone struck, Mohapatra collected the fallen coconuts from his garden and stacked them in his storehouse. “Many were not ripe for plucking and would not fetch much price. I do not know how I would support my family without these trees.”
The government has announced a compensation for the farmers whose trees have been damaged. But many say it is inadequate. The state fixed the compensation amount at Rs1,600 per damaged coconut tree. It also plans to provide coconut saplings to the affected farmers.
“A new coconut tree takes around 5 to 7 years to grow fully and bear fruit. We used to earn over Rs 3,000 a year from each tree. How would Rs 1,600 help us? Besides, the fallen coconut trees are still lying around and need to be cleared before we can think of replanting new,” said Saroj Harichandan, who lost over 200 trees.
Coconut Development Board officials in Bhubaneswar said they were trying to get higher compensation. “We received a demand of Rs 182.4 crore from the Odisha government as compensation. Once the Centre approves it, we will start giving subsidy,” said CDB deputy director Rajat Kumar Pal.
First Published: May 21, 2019 07:57 IST