Monday, February 16, 2009

Might of mites hurting Goan coconut industry badly

The state of Goa is known for its beauty which is most often showcased by swaGoan coconuts with Mitesying palm trees dotting the beaches, or even hinterland areas. Palm trees have therefore been synonymous with Goa and the Goan coconut fruit is considered to be the most delicious and the most completely utilised fruit, consumed in its entire measure, thereby supporting an industry in which thousands are also employed in Goa.

The state of Goa and its coconut farmers are however facing a plucky situation for the last so many years due to the coconut crop being affected by the "Eriophyid mite", infesting the entire chain of the coconut industry.

The ERIOPHYID Mite is one of the dreaded pests of coconut, and in recent years it has caused enormous damage to the palms in Goa.

Eriophyid mites are very tiny, and are only visible under a microscope. The Eriophyid mites are similar to worms, and are equipped with two pairs of legs. The Males and females among the mites appear identical. They are lazy crawlers and the primary source of their proliferation leading to their population increase and spread is merely by wind. 

While the government of Goa was earlier dependent on the rain to reduce the effect of the mites on the coconut, the same has not proven good enough prompting the government to devise methods and means to control this pest.

So what may be good news to Goan coconut farmers, is the agriculture department apparently attempting a new treatment which could reduce the effects of the mites and the department has already started tests at some places.These trials have been conducted on the recommendation of the Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth, Maharashtra

The tiny microscopic Mites, in recent times, have hurt Goan coconuts like never before and are playing havoc with the crop, resulting in deformed coconuts or the falling of premature nuts, nuts cracking within and brown or silvery colouration of the husk of the coconut. A clean environment is essential to prevent proliferation of mites which is sadly missing in most farms in Goa. After rainfall the mites tend to reduce in number but slowly re-appear after the passing of the rains.

The treatment by the agriculture department in Goa uses micro nutrients such as Zinc, neem with boron etc and the trials are already started in many fields in the state of Goa. Neem which is a natural insecticide and is regarded highly even against mosquitoes by Goans locally over the years, is used by applying the neem extract  spray on the coconut trees.

Internationally, spraying the affected palms with a mixture of 2 per cent neem oil, garlic and soap mixture has been found to be effective.

However for a consistent and effective application, all treatments are apparently best achieved if treated at the root of the coconut tree.

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