For the past two months, farmers of five blocks in Tiruvallur have been working hard to double the output of pulses in the district.

The farmers of Minjur, Cholavaram, Gummidipoondi, Ellapuram and Tiruvallur blocks have brought more land under rice fallow-crop cultivation. In this method, seeds of pulses, including green gram, are sown a few days before the paddy harvest and the seeds germinate due to the little moisture that is retained in the soil.

A total of 12,303 hectares of land are under pulse cultivation in the district, of which 6,500 are under rice fallow-crop cultivation, an increase of 2,000 hectares from last year. The farmers have set themselves a target of 1.20 lakh tonnes of pulses as against 70,000 tonnes last year.

According to an agricultural officer, rice fallow-crop cultivation would help double production. The farmers take care to leave about three-fourths of a foot of paddy stubble so that the saplings of the pulses are not harmed. This is an 80-day crop; during the period, farmers spray the plants with DAP twice.

According to officials in the agricultural department, these villages, which are known for paddy cultivation, are also taking up pulses due to government intervention. “Pulses do not need much care and there is no need to plough the fields in this method. We provide them five kg of free DAP per acre,” said an agricultural officer.

The department has been encouraging more farmers to take to this intermediate crop as it does not require much water and the spraying of DAP will also help increase the yield, the official explained, adding that the production was expected to go up from the usual 500-600 kilos per hectare to one tonne per hectare.

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