6.070 hecatres of rubber replanted in 2004 with RRII.105 belonging to me in Kokkayar village near Koottickkal bordering Kottayam and Idukki districts of Kerala in South India has been affected by corynespora leaf disease since 2010. It was confirmed two years ago by the Department of pathology, Rubber Research Institute of India, after examining leaf samples.
On recommendation from the RRII I sprayed 56% COC mixed in rubber spray oil in the ratio 1:5 in February 2010 and again in February 2011. Thankfully during 2011 there was no incidence of the disease probably due to unfavorable weather conditions for the spread of its spores.
However with the favorable weather conditions this year the disease has again reared its ugly head. As per the recommendation of RRII and visit by Dy. Rubber Production Commissioner, Kanjirappally, it was decided to spray COC + rubber spray oil on 4th February taking into consideration the maturity of the refoliation.
As soon as we started spraying a group of people from the neighborhood shouting slogans entered the estate and threatened the laborers with dire consequence if they continued with the spraying. No amount of reasoning with them that this is a harmless fungicide and not any harmful insecticide would mollify them.
After the needless ‘Endosulphan controversy’ every spraying is deemed to be ‘Endosulphan’ for the obstructionist Keralites / Malayalis!! I approached the Sub Inspector of Police Peruvanthanam with a complaint that I am not allowed to conduct important spraying operations and showed him the relevant pages from the ‘Rubber magazine’ regarding spraying for corynespora. He refused to interfere in the matter saying that he cannot do anything if a mob objected and directed me to the Agricultural officer, Kokkayar under escort of two police constables and asked me to get sanction from the Agricultural officer for continuation of spraying.
Thankfully the Agricultural officer was present in the office even though it was a Saturday. After listening to my plight the Agricultural officer along with the two police men accompanied me to the estate and explained the harmlessness of spraying COC mixed in Spray oil to the gang. One so called ‘learned individual’ pointed to the “Keep out of reach of Children” and ‘Antidote’ marked on the 13kg COC bag and objected to its spraying, declaring that it is poison!!
It took a lot of explanation on the part of the Agricultural officer and the accompanying police men about the ‘statutory warning’ printed on the bags to persuade that particular person to agree to continue with the spraying.
This is the third year in succession that different civil authorities are rushing to the estate on complaint from these antisocial elements. If in 2010 the Kokkayar Village officer came inspecting after receiving complaints, last year it was the turn of the Kokkayar Panchayat officials and police men from Peruvanthanam Police Station to come enquiring based on telephonic complaints.
If this goes on we will have to take prior sanction of the Agricultural officer every year before commencement of spraying, twice every year if I have to spray for corynespora too in addition to pre monsoon spraying.
The Rubber board should take out large colour advertisements in vernacular press including ‘Deshabhimani’ the mouth piece of Marxist Communist party clearly showing workers spraying with micron sprayers and mist blowers and informing the public that it is an harmless and unavoidable agricultural operation in rubber plantations.