The Agriculture Department has planned to increase the area under red gram cultivation in the district through innovation in cultivation practices for increasing productivity from the current season.

Presently, the crop is being raised on 350 hectares under conventional method . The department has now introduced transplantation method for raising the crop on an additional 250 hectares in all the blocks except Avudaiyarkovil and Manamelkudi, the coastal blocks where rice is predominantly grown, said S.M.Shajahan, Joint Director of Agriculture.

Presiding over a training programme on red gram cultivation through transplantation organised by the Farmers Training Centre Kudumianmalai and the Krishi Vigyan Kendra at Vamban near here on Friday, he said that transplantation method improves crop yield. Under conventional method , red gram has been raised as an intercrop in groundnut fields during adi pattam, corresponding to June-July period, every year. But due to poor rainfall, farmers have suffered a severe drop in production over the last five years.

Hence, the department has evolved a new plan for raising the crop, with modification in both the season and the cultivation practice. “We recommend raising the crop during September-October coinciding with purattasi pattam. The transplantation technique will increase the per acre yield to 1,000 kg from the present 250 to 300 kg.

The department has recommended CORg 7, a short-duration variety which can be harvested in 130 days. The purattasi pattam was considered ideal for the crop, due to the absence of rain or mist during the harvest period. “The crop is photosensitive and sunlight during flowering season favours blooming of more number of pods.”

S.Rajasekaran, Agricultural Officer, Farmers Training Centre, Kudumiyanmalai, explained the technique to be adopted for raising the nurseries. He said that red gram farmers across the district underwent the training in batches.

R. Sadhanandham, Deputy Director of Agriculture (Government of India Schemes) said that seeds, fertilizers and other agricultural inputs totally valued at Rs.7,500 would be given free to red gram growers under the National Agriculture Development Programme.