Awareness programme for cotton farmers

Thirumangalam Uzhavar Mamandram at Sengappadai village reverberated with the song “Iyarkai thai unnai Valthigirom…” hailing Mother Nature. In an era when farm lands are rapidly becoming housing plots, the One Village One Cotton Variety Project of Cotton Corporation of India served as succour to farmers who are struggling to make ends meet.

Under the One Village One Cotton Variety Project, Cotton Corporation of India, Coimbatore, with DHAN Foundation, Madurai, jointly organised an awareness programme at Sengappadai village.

M.Palanichamy, Programme leader of DHAN Foundation (One Village One Cotton Variety Project), says that the Cotton Corporation selected two villages in Tamil Nadu for implementing the project – Sengappadai near Thirumangalam and Nerkunam in Perambalur District.

Enhancing the yield

In Sengappadai, the corporation has introduced SVPR-2 (Srivilliputhur-2), a highly drought-resistant variety. DHAN Foundation, which is working on this project for two years, is helping farmers to enhance their yield with different techniques and methods. Organisers introduced line sowing (varisai vithaippu karuvi) and eco-friendly neem-based pesticides and fertilizers.

Farmers have been sowing seeds manually, which complicates the weeding process. If they practise line sowing, they can weed more easily and also intercrop black, green and red gram, says Palanichamy.

Initially, when the authorities introduced the programme, around 10 farmers were convinced and took to line sowing, which enhanced the yield from four quintals per acre to six and seven quintals per acre. Farmer Ramasamy, 65, says that line sowing has yielded better results than his earlier traditional sowing. As Sengappadai is a rainfed area, many farmers still prefer traditional sowing as it involves less labour cost than the line sowing method. This year, the organisers introduced the ridges-furrows method, in which the furrows can hold rain water. The programme has reached out to 30 per cent of the farmers in the village.