About 3,000 farmers are now engaged in carrot cultivation

Rain or shine carrots are fine. With this view being shared by many members of the farming community in The Nilgiris and also those from the plains who take agricultural lands on lease, the area under carrots has been steadily increasing.

Speaking to The Hindu here on Thursday, the Joint Director of Horticulture in-charge N. Mani said that out of about 7,600 hectares under various annual crops carrots account for about 2000 hectares every year.

They are cultivated in different parts of the Ooty, Coonoor and Kotagiri blocks like M.Palada, Kullisholai, Nanjanad, Thuneri, Ketti, Ithalar, Kookalthorai and Nedugula.

Unlike earlier when rotation of crops was the practice among the farmers now most of them cultivate carrots throughout the year on account of the good return and demand. Each cultivation season lasts about 30 days.

Stating that about 3,000 farmers, including traditional and new are now engaged in carrot cultivation, he said that individual holdings range from 25 cents to two acres. Adverting to the role of the department in helping the carrot growers, Mr. Mani said that seeds and technical inputs are made available to them.

Pointing out that the seeds include the normal variety, hybrid and location specific, he said that a 50 per cent subsidy is extended.

The cost per kg. of seeds depending on the variety ranges between Rs. 1, 500 and Rs. 15,000. With the demand increasing, the department now distributes about 3,500 kg. of seeds including 1500 kg. of hybrids. To a query on the impact of the prolonged dry weather this year on the cultivation of carrots, he said that it was not serious as most of the carrot cultivating areas had either received some rain or had irrigation facilities.

R. Raghu, a veteran carrot cultivator of Bygamund Hosahatty, said that till about 15 days back the weather had been very dry and one or two farmers had even resorted to the purchase of a couple of lorry loads of water.

However, the situation was not alarming and the water was only to sprinkle a small area.

P. Vijayaraghavan, a Ketti Palada-based wholesaler, said that though there was some concern on the weather front and farm operations in some places had been delayed, the flow of carrots to the market has been steady.

Pointing out that when the going is good the flow can touch even 500 tonnes a day, he said that now it was about 200 tonnes a day. Nilgiris carrots which are in demand in many states fetched till recently fancy prices like Rs. 40 a kg.

However, now it was commanding prices ranging between Rs. 20 and Rs. 30. a kg.