An apiculture park will be set up at Bhagamandala in Kodagu district to revive apiculture in Karnataka, Horticulture Minister Shamanur Shivashankarappa said on Thursday.
He told reporters here that the park would come up on six acres at Bhagamandala. The department would distribute 20,000 boxes to Jenu Kurubas, a tribe that has expertise in honey cultivation and extraction.
According to him, Rs. 60 lakh had been earmarked in the current fiscal to promote apiculture. “At present, the honey production is around 800 metric tonnes but it is possible to increase it to 8,000 metric tonnes per annum. Besides awareness, training would be imparted to the local tribe to promote apiculture. There is a lot of scope for promoting apiculture in Uttara Kannada, Dakshina Kannada and other Malnad districts,” he said.
The minister said the department has submitted a proposal to the Finance Department to announce a policy on neera.
“An amendment to the State Excise Act is necessary to allow the tapping and selling of neera in the state. Already, steps have been taken to promote value-added products from the neera like palm syrup, palm jaggery and palm sugar. Now it is up to the Finance Department to table a bill in the State Legislature to pass the Neera Policy,” he said.
He said the state government has submitted a proposal to the Union government seeking release of Rs. 100 crore to revive coconut plantations in several districts.
“Thirty per cent of the coconut plants have perished due to pests and failure of monsoon. The department is educating the farmers of rain-fed areas to go for alternative crops,” he said. According to him, the department has given Rs. 12,000 per acre to farmers for loss of coconut plants.
Shamanur said two flower auction centres set up in Tumkur and Davangere would be inaugurated soon. The Department of Horticulture has provided the infrastructure but it would be managed by the Karnataka Agricultural Marketing Department.
“Floriculture is no longer a profitable venture following competitions from the African countries. In recent years, Kenya and Ethiopia have emerged as leading flower export countries after the European countries. Despite this, many flowers are being exported from Karnataka thanks to the department’s support. Fifty per cent subsidy is being given to entrepreneurs under the National Horticulture Mission to promote floriculture,” he said.
He said the census of horticulture crops’ areas under cultivation and production were in progress in Bagalkot, Belgaum, Bellary, Chitradurga, Davangere, Gulbarga, Hassan, Kolar, Mysore, Shimoga and Tumkur districts. According to him, Rs. 5 crore had been earmarked for the purpose. “Nearly 50 per cent of the work has been completed,” he said.