Fani-affected coconut farmers of Puri stare at bleak future

Puri: Like other farmers, coconut growers of Puri also bore the brunt of cyclone Fani, which made landfall near the district on May 3. Around 50,000 coconut farmers in Chandanpur and Sakhigopal area of the district had to witness loss worth crores of rupees as thousands of trees were uprooted and damaged in the cyclone. After losing their only means of livelihood, they are now staring at a bleak future.

Narrating his plight, a coconut grower from Birakeshpur area, Sarat Sahu, who lost around 1200 coconut trees said, “We lost around 90 per cent of the coconut trees, whom our forefathers used to call Denga Pua, which means the eldest son of the family who takes care of the livelihood. But now they are ruined.”

Sahu used to earn around Rs 4 lakh per year but now his family doesn’t have any other means to earn a livelihood.
Like Sahu, other coconut growers have also incurred massive loss due to the extremely severe cyclone Fani.

“Coconut farming was being done by our forefathers and we too are engaged in the same work. They are the only means through which we get food. Cyclone inflicted so much damage but none of the government officials came for assessment,” said Mishra.

Vendors selling green coconuts have also been hit hard owing to less import following cyclone Fani. Customers are also not interested in buying coconuts as they are not fresh, said a green coconut vendor Gangadhar Biswal, from whom Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had bought a green coconut on New Year day while returning from Puri.

“I am now worried about managing the expenses of my family as most of the coconut trees have been damaged in the cyclone. Don’t know what to do now,” said Biswal.

While the local administration is yet to visit the area to assess the damage caused to the coconut farmers’ community, the Odisha government has announced cash assistance of Rs 500 for every damaged coconut tree, subject to a limit of 25 trees per farmer.