The Orange Mela, organised by the Horticulture Department at Lalbagh, turned out to be a damp squib as the organisers have exhibited lesser variety of oranges and more of other fruits and vegetables.
Karnataka’s Geographical Indication (GI) tagged Coorg (Kodagu) oranges were almost out of sight on Saturday. Though, oranges and Kinnows from northern states like Punjab, Maharashtra and Rajasthan were points of attraction, oranges from southern states failed to woo the customers.
Even as the customers walked out unhappy, the organisers claimed that the response was good for the mela. While state’s farmers at the stalls were worried about the government’s apathy towards their crop loss from orange cultivation, the government in turn blamed it on the farmers for not taking enough care of their orchards.
“Neither the National Horticulture Board’s research works, nor the government’s measures to mitigate crop loss have actually reached farmers. There’s complete lobbying and only the politically motivated people seem to benefit,” a Coorg Orange Growers’ Cooperative Society Ltd member said.
In Karnataka, the area under orange cultivation has shrunk from 12,000 hectares to 5,000 hectares. In Kodagu, Hassan and Chikmagalur region, the hub of orange cultivation, the orange cultivation is on in 2,500 hectares. Kodagu orange farmers complained about the neglect of government towards their disease-hit orchards.
Dhal Singh, National Horticulture Board’s Member, blamed farmers for not taking sufficient care of their orchards.
“People in Karnataka grow oranges as a secondary crop with coffee plantations and they do not take intensive care of the crop. The diseases are hardly controlled,” he said.