Ever since I realized that the leaves of my coconut palms have yellowed I have not been able to sleep. I woke up nightmares fearing that the plants may die before I am able to attend them. Though Ashok, caretaker of my neighbour’s plot and an expert whose advice I always seek addressed my fear saying: ”Give them some Hadh Khat (Bone meal) and it will take care of the problem.”
An urbanite and used to thinking that academics are always right I did not pay much heed to the traditional knowledge of a school dropout and an Adivasi farmer, like Ashok.
I approached a horticulturist friend who said the yellowing could be due to an attack by white termites. That was enough to make me go tense leading to my wife chiding me, “Have you seen a ghost? Why do you worry so much?”
The horticulturist friend promised to visit my farm. But was unable to make it. I approached a pest control firm. They said they could help but the problem needs to be identified by a horticulturist.
“Ashok are you sure that white ants haven’t attacked the palms,” I asked Ashok from my home on phone.
Next day Ashok checked all the 15 palms in my farm and concluded that the yellowing was due to some kind of stress. “Can you tell me whether you avoided watering the plants for some reason,” he asked.
Yes, I did remember that we were not able to water them in September-October due to rupturing of pipelines, which brought water to my farm.
My horticulturist paid a surprise visit to my farm and one look at the yellowing coconut palm leaves advised: “Mix a generous amount of urea with vermicompost and leaves of giripushp and spread it on the roots. Everything will be fine. “