KENDRAPARA: Around 50,000 coconut farmers of the State have been left in the lurch after around 14 lakh coconut trees grown on over 8,000 hectares were uprooted due to cyclone Fani.“The cyclone came as a bolt from the blue and left me devastated as all the 27 coconut trees in my farm were uprooted,” said Ashok Sahoo, a coconut farmer of Mahakalapada. Umesh Chandra Singh, a farmer leader, said the impact of the cyclone is being felt by the farmers and they will find it tough to recover from the blow.
High-velocity winds damaged 13,87,750 coconut trees in the State. As per enumeration data compiled by the Horticulture department, in Puri district, which took the brunt of the storm, as many as 11,59,375 coconut trees were uprooted.
In Khurda, 1,96,315 trees got uprooted while the number is 5,075 in Cuttack district, 14,910 in Jajpur, 10,500 in Kendrapara district and 1,575 in Jagatsinghpur district. The department has fixed the compensation amount at Rs 1,600 per coconut tree. “We will also provide coconut saplings to the affected farmers soon,” said a senior official of the department.
However, the coconut farmers have alleged that the compensation is meagre as coconut trees are a source of revenue for many years. “A new coconut tree takes around five to seven years to grow and bear fruit. The Government should provide us Rs 4,000 as compensation for the damage of a single coconut tree,” said Arabinda Mandal, a coconut farmer of Jamboo village.
He said in order to plant new saplings, the farmers will be required to clear the debris from their farms. “Although the Government has cleared roads, the damaged coconut farms are yet to be cleared of debris,” added Mandal. Pravat Dalei, a coconut farmer of Pattamundai, said with mercury soaring, the demand for coconut is at an all-time high. “But it is not possible for us to supply green coconuts to the markets,” he said.