Agriculture department targets to raise pulses in 38,000 hectares

Pulses cultivation is to get a big push in Tiruchi district this year with the Agriculture Department drawing up ambitious targets to substantially increase the area covered under black gram and red gram.

Last year, about 26,000 hectares were brought under pulses, most of them black gram, in the district.

During the current year, the agriculture department has planned to increase the total area under pulses to 38,000 hectares.

With red gram fetching a good price currently, the department is planning to motivate more farmers to go for the crop. S.Sivaraj, Joint Director (in-charge) of Agriculture, told The Hindu.

“We are planning to increase the coverage under red gram in the district from 1,800 to 4,000-5,000 hectares.”

This year too, a major portion of the area covered under pulses would be black gram.

About 2,000 hectares were expected to be brought under green gram.

The focus would be on bringing more rain fed areas under pulses.

As part of the campaign to promote pulses cultivation, the department will step up the procurement and distribution of seeds by about 40 per cent.

It is planning to distribute about 118 tonnes of seeds to farmers with central subsidy.

Similarly, a premium would be offered for seeds procured from farmers.

The department has managed to get an allocation of about Rs.1.25 crores for the district from the State government under the Seed Multiplication Scheme.

This is by the far the maximum allocation to the district, Mr.Sivaraj said.

Utilising the funds, about 900 tonnes of paddy seeds would be distributed at subsidised rates to farmers through the year.

Paddy cultivation

Referring to paddy cultivation, Mr.Sivaraj said the target for the total paddy coverage in the district will be 73,000 hectares.

With the delay in the opening of Mettur reservoir for irrigation, there was likely to be a shortfall in cultivation of about 4,000 hectares in the kuruvai season. However, a substantial portion of the shortfall was expected to be made good in the samba season.

SRI technique

The department has also drawn up plans to motivate more paddy farmers to take to the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) technique.

Last year, SRI was adopted in about 26,000 hectares and the department was planning to increase it to about 35,000 hectares, accounting for nearly 50 per cent of the total area under paddy cultivation in the district.

A special campaign to motivate farmers has been initiated and demo plots would be set up in the fields of about 3,700 farmers, with each of them being provided free inputs worth Rs.3, 000.