Horticulture awareness campaigns being conducted in villages where farming is the predominant profession, have started evoking good response since the participant village panchayat presidents and progressive farmers can interact with the officials directly to convey their actual requirements such as vegetable seeds, fruit plants, technologies, appropriate solutions for the problems being faced by them on the field.

According to R. Rajan Ravichandran, Deputy Director of Horticulture, Tirunelveli, block-level village awareness campaigns are being organised by the Department of Horticulture to popularise the development schemes such as Integrated Horticulture Development Scheme (IHDS) wherein farmers can get high yielding hybrid vegetable seeds at 50 per cent subsidised cost to the maximum of half a hectare per farmer and high yielding fruit plants like sapota graft, guava layers, mgrafts, pomegranate layers etc. at 50 per cent subsidised cost to the maximum of one hectare per farmer under Precision Farming project.

Hence the farmers are able to get subsidy for inputs like water soluble fertilizers and hybrid vegetable seeds, worth Rs. 20,000 per hectare with fertigation system dovetailed with micro irrigation system with a maximum of one hectare per farmer.

Area expansion programme under National Horticulture Mission (NHM) scheme has the subsidy pattern of Rs. 17,500 per hectare for amla, Rs. 16,500 per hectare for mango, Rs. 15,000 per hectare for acidlime, Rs. 12,000 per hectare for small and marginal farmers for flowers, Rs. 12,500 per hectare for chillies.

Under the Tamil Nadu Irrigated Agriculture Modernisation and Water Bodies Restoration and Management (IAMWARM) project, Rs. 15,000 per hectare is given for vegetables, he also added.

Since indents for inputs required under various development schemes for the ensuing season have been prepared at grassroots-level, based on the response from the agriculturists, these campaigns have turned out to be successful.

About 150 farmers have so far submitted their list of requirements for fruit plants, vegetable seeds etc. under various horticulture development schemes in Melaneelithanallur block alone.

P. Theivasundari, Revenue Inspector, Kurukkalpatti, who also participated in the campaign held at Kurukkalpatti on Wednesday said the revenue department would do the needful for giving all necessary documents needed for carrying out the development schemes especially drip irrigation, in time.

Responding to the farmers' queries, S. Raja Mohamed, Assistant Director of Horticulture, Melaneelithanallur block, explained the benefits being extended to farmers under various schemes by the Department of Horticulture including IHDS, Drip irrigation, Precision Farming, NHM etc.

He stressed the need for testing soil and water quality for growing perennial crops as they are not only mandatory but also necessary to claim subsidy under Micro Irrigation System and Precision Farming project.

“Existing dry spell is the apt time for taking soil samples”, he added.

Enrol names

He also urged the farmers to enrol their names in National Agriculture Insurance Scheme for banana crops.

Based on the request made by the farmers who participated in today's campaign, arrangements were immediately made to bring Mobile Soil Testing Unit to Panaivadalichatram in the block on September 13 from Kovilpatti, so that farmers can test the soil quality before the onset of northeast monsoon.

Assistant Agricultural Officers K. Thangaraj and B. Premkumar spoke on the occasion.

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