GUWAHATI, June 14 � The agricultural scientists of the State are yet to confirm the assertion made by the commoners that the signal originating from the mobile phone towers is leading to reduced coconut production. However, a study is being planned by the Kahikuchi-based Horticulture Research Station (HRS) of the Assam Agricultural University (AAU) here to ascertain the factors responsible for the reduced production of coconut in the State.
Agricultural scientists in the meantime have made a significant assertion that the phenomenon of reduced productivity has affected the coconut plants of Kerala dwarf varieties, which has several advantages and is hence preferred by the State�s farmers over the local varieties.
In the State, farmers of Nalbari district, Morigaon district and the Bajali sub-division in Barpeta district are the major producers of coconut. Farmers in some areas of Lakhimpur and Dhemaji districts also produce the crop.
Lion�s share of the coconut produced in the State is consumed by its own people, while a portion is exported to the neighbouring states of Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya and West Bengal. Some portions are also exported to Bihar and Jharkhand, said sources in the Assam State Agricultural Marketing Board (ASAMB).
Chief Scientist of the HRS Dr Guneswar Medhi told this correspondent that till 2009, coconut production in the State was good. But, since last year, disturbing reports of immature fall of the crop, loss of bearing capacities of the plants etc., started pouring in from several parts of the State. Farmers during interaction with the scientists started complaining of loss of crop, loss of the bearing capacity and also the sterility of their plants.
Reports suggesting the incidence of the sterility of the plants are more compared to the ones related with the loss of crop and gradual loss of the bearing capacity of the plants, said Dr Medhi.
However, all the above developments have been mostly reported from Rangiya area in Kamrup district and the districts of Nalbari and Goalpara.
But the significant point is that the affected coconut plantations mostly consist of the plants of the Kerala dwarf type which have attained the age of 30 to 35 years. �We have been finding such behaviours of these coconut plants in our condition for the past six to seven years and we are in the process of replacing such plants with the local varieties at our HRS,� said Dr Medhi.
Continuing, he said, �Our indigenous or local plants and the Kamarupa variety that we have developed have the capacity to continue good yields even at the age of 50 years.�
He maintains that some Kerala dwarf varieties start bearing fruit at the age of three to four years, unlike the local varieties, which start fruit bearing at six to seven years of age. Moreover, as the name suggests, the Kerala dwarf varieties are not very tall, said Dr Medhi.
The HRS has planned to take up a study on the phenomenon and it will take at least two to three years� time for completion, said the AAU scientist.