Trees play a vital role not only in keeping tab with the rising temperatures and pollution but to also enhance soil fertility. Just like soil acts as supplier of nutrition and minerals for trees, the same way trees act as natural conditioners for soil hence maintaining a mutual support between. Andhra Pradesh is a major producer of coconut and we being locals of Visakhapatnam must feel fortunate to have this produce grow around us.
But things aren’t as good as they seem. Highlighting the soil decomposition issue, Agriculture authorities within the district believe encouraging Coconut and Casuarinas plantation would intensify the otherwise decomposing soil.
Nevertheless there are many more problems, let alone a solution. The major concern is – who will adapt such plantations considering existing owners facing losses since past decade – for reasons being lack of enough labor to pluck and separate coconut and its coir. Situation seems worsened near Buwalawada and Yelamanchili where farmers have been lending their crop land to casuarinas agriculturists annually for as low as Rs. 5000. Also, post cyclone Hudhud all the trees covering 5000 acres of land have annihilated and ever since there is no proper care being taken.
A local coconut merchant briefed TOI on selling coconut during peak summer for Rs. 20/-, wherein they still need to give a tenth fragment of earnings to local farmers for lack of labor. While the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act is a barrier, the introduction of Wine shops has left none with enough energy to climb up and pluck the fruit.
Another farmer expressed concern over his 20 acres of coconut crop shared with citrus, which during 80’s earned him Rs. 7000 per acre. Fast forward to today and he complains on getting nothing out of it. Also he manifests his issue with real estate that ceaselessly bargains his land for some really good money.
To avoid such good lands from being converted into layouts for construction, the Agriculture department is trying its best in providing insurance to farmers with long term crop loans along. It is said, they are trying to involve Coir Board. A Coir Board erstwhile counselor on the other hand reportedly emphasized on North coastal region of AP being a boon; since Vizag province alone can induce to nearly 800 metric tons of coir which as of now is nowhere being produced.