Two farm schools - at Veerapandi and at Podhumbu - in Madurai West Block have been opened to train and disseminate on water saving techniques and among others to the farmers in this region.

In the absence of rain and poor storage in reservoirs, regular farming activities had shrunk, according to data available with the agriculture department.

The water, which was released from Vaigai reservoir for paddy crops to the extent of 1.50 lakh acres being raised in the district, had been suspended recently due to fall in water level.

Sensing the need to adapt to latest technology on as many fronts possible in the process of farming operation, the officials have swung into action to prepare farmers’ to get familiarised with innovative farm activities and the use of new machines. The water management in irrigation had suddenly captured an important slot for a majority of the farmers, officials said.

With the aid of revolving fund, the agriculture department officials here have opened two farm schools in which 25 farmers’ each are undergoing training right from transplanting techniques. The farmers’ are selected from each block in the district and as a part of training, they are also taken to exposure visits within and outside the State. For needy farmers, seed money of Rs 10,000 is provided, which is interest free for six months and is repayable on easy terms.

The farm school is an initiative which would instil confidence on farmers’ and through such exposure they could acquire knowledge and implement it in their farms, said Deputy Director (Agriculture) S. Kanagaraj.

At a time, when farmers are keeping their fingers crossed due to severe water shortage, the initiative is expected to bring in hope and optimism. Some of the trainees at the farm school in Podhumbu said that the System Rice Intensification technique consumed less water and facilitated higher yield. The cost incurred in raising paddy per acre too in SRI method was relatively less and in the absence of skilled labourers, mechanisation has given us hope, they summed up.

The initiative, which is covered in six classes, is expected to rope in more farmers prepared for the next season, said Deputy Directors G.R. Saranath Babu and Ravichandran.

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