They reap benefits of automation and modern agro methods

Technology has made inroads into agricultural operations in Madurai district. Farmers have started reaping benefits after they have automated and adopted modern agriculture methods.

Paddy yield has steadily increased over a span of four years. In 2009-10, the yield was 5,554 kg per hectare (ha). It increased to 6,367 kg/ha in 2010-11 and 6,819 kg/ha in 2011-12. Despite a severe drought, it was 5,157 kg/ha in 2012-13, a year in which many districts sought monetary relief to offset losses in the farm sector.

Though slow to embrace the system of Rice Intensification (SRI) technique introduced by the government, farmers are now enjoying the dividends.

Today, small and marginal farmers are quick to use farm implements such as power tillers, transplanters and power weeders, once topics of discussion limited to officials, manufacturers and farmers with large holdings, says S. Kanagaraj, Deputy Director (Watershed Development Agency).

By involving the village youth, ‘Farmers’ interest groups’ (FIG) were formed in all the 13 blocks in Madurai district. The FIGs monitored and fulfilled farmers’ needs. For instance, farmers in Thuyaneri near Othakadai in the Madurai East block were supplied with power tillers and transplanters but were also made accountable for their maintenance, Mr. Kanagaraj said.

Now, S. Ramaiah of Kallanthiri is able to manage his 2.5-acre paddy field with minimum farm labour. “I became familiar with the farm equipment after attending an ATMA programme. The introduction of the harvester machine has come as a big relief. Water conservation techniques are also useful. There were initial hiccups, but I managed to overcome them,” he said.

Like Ramaiah, many other farmers have their own success stories, say officials.

Weather bulletin

Another important scientific advancement that has reached the nook and corners of Madurai district is the easy access to rainfall data. The weather forecast can be accessed on tawn.tnau.ac.in. Established by the Agro Climate Research Centre, the agri-weather bulletin provides data on local temperature, possibility of rainfall in the next 24 hours, humidity level, and other information. The weather forecast enables farmers to plan the day’s work, says Arulprakasam, an FIG member.

Presently, automatic weather stations are functioning in Vadipatti, Madurai East, Madurai West, Alanganallur and Kottampatti blocks. Soon, the other eight blocks too will have the facility, a Tamil Nadu Agricultural University official said.

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