Although farmers witnessed a sharp increase in yield following summer showers last month, there has now been a dip in the yield as the buds discoloured because of pest attack.

Jasmine cultivation in the district has been affected by pest attack causing extensive damage to the crop in a number of villages resulting in poor yield. Although the harvest picked up to some extent in the aftermath of the summer showers last month, the yield has dwindled in the past few days following pest attack.

Andhanallur block in the district is a major centre for jasmine cultivation. A cluster of villages, including Singapore Othakadai, Puliyur, Podhavur, Theerthapatti, Seplapatti, and Posampatti are known for jasmine cultivation in the district.

R. Thangavel from Inampuliyur village near Andhanallur says he had grown 1,300 plants of jasmine on an acre and the average yield was about 20 kg. “Several farmers adopt their own technique for containing pest attack,” he says.

Farmers in Mannachanallur block point out that they have started applying pesticides but the pest attack could not be controlled.

M. Kaliyaperumal of Tiruvarangapatti in the block said the crop yielded flowers from the Tamil month of ‘Thai’ (January – February).

Although farmers witnessed a sharp increase in yield following summer showers last month, there has now been a dip in the yield as the buds discoloured because of pest attack.

He could not get adequate returns on the investment. He had bought the plants from Rameswaram at the rate of Rs. 3 a piece. The average daily yield from his 1,000 plants on one acre was 50 kg which fetched a daily revenue of Rs. 1,000 before summer showers. But now, the daily returns had come down to Rs. 600 because of fall in yield. He had invested Rs. 2,000 for applying to pesticides on Saturday.

K. Rajasekar, a dealer in the flower, said that absence of irrigational facility and rise in mercury level had resulted in poor arrivals at the wholesale market in Srirangam.

The arrivals was just 60 per cent of the usual harvest this year, probably because of heat wave. Ettarai and Koppu were the major centres which supplied jasmine flowers to the Srirangam market.

Ayilai Siva Suriyan, district secretary of the Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam, said that pest attack had been a recurring phenomenon yet to be resolved.

An official from the Horticulture Department said farmers applied fertilisers instead of pesticides to control the pest attack. He would study the nature of pest attack and recommend suitable action. The district accounted for about 300 hectares of jasmine with an average daily yield of 20 kg an acre.

B. Krishnan, a former official of Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Society (IFFCO), suggested that farmers consulted the Horticulture Department officials and carefully select proper pest-specific remedy. He said that bio-pesticides could control the pest attack to some extent. Spraying of neem-based pesticides would go a long way in controlling the pest attack.