In many places in the district farmers going in for horticulture crops have either not taken up cultivation or are delaying planting to shield themselves from the impact of a poor monsoon, says W. Vincent Manoharan, Deputy Director, Horticulture.

This has impacted the area under horticulture crops but the impact is only minimal as the Department has initiated a variety of measures to take up cultivation. The steps initiated include giving hybrid, high-yielding varieties to farmers, creating awareness on various government schemes, encouraging farmers to go in for drip irrigation and giving inputs and subsidy.

Based on the support and encouragement from the Department, the farmers have taken up cultivation of bindi (lady’s finger), brinjal, banana, beetroot, and onion. A few of the farmers will take up cultivation in the ensuing Navara/Thai Pattam season, which starts after Pongal.

This year the Commissioner for Horticulture Santhosh Babu had sanctioned Rs. 62 lakh under the Integrated Horticulture Development Scheme to the district, which is unprecedented. The Department here plans to utilise the money, as per the guidance of Collector M. Karunagaran, for precision farming, in promoting hi-tech productivity enhancement programme, ‘pandhal’ vegetable scheme and National Horticulture Mission.

The pandhal vegetable scheme, Mr. Manoharan says, is being implemented in the district since last year and aimed at encouraging farmers cultivating gourds. Farmers in Pollachi North, Pollachi South, Kinathukadavu and Anamalai have taken up the cultivation.

Under precision farming, the Department has brought together farmers in all the 12 blocks to form clusters of 20 farmers to take up banana cultivation. Drip irrigation is an important component of the scheme.

Under the National Horticulture Mission the Department promoted cocoa cultivation as an intercrop in coconut fields. This has has many takers in and around Pollachi. With the help of a private company, the Department has also put in place a buyback arrangement.

The Department plans to initiate a few more steps in the coming days, he adds.