“Since less water is required, farmers need not rely wholly on rains”

Cultivation of organic baby corn, a cereal grain from maize, has yielded the desired results to a farmer at Puthiyamputhur.

Having raised the crop on two acres, M. Velraj, the baby corn farmer, said the cultivation had ensured him livelihood support. Since less amount of water was required to raise the short duration crop, farmers need not rely wholly on rains. It was harvested in just a span of 50 to 60 days after sowing. Baby corn harvesting could be done early while the ears were small and immature.

He said, “the baby corn ears are hand-picked as soon as corn silks emerge from the ear tips.

Normally, corn matures very quickly; hence harvest has to be timed carefully. Baby corn has nutritional value and it is sweet. It is consumed both raw and cooked.”

On the cultivation method, he said 32, 000 hybrid variety seeds (syngenta 5414) costing Rs.350 per kilo were sown on each of the acres, which saw a yield of 65, 000 cobs.

He thanked officials of Krishi Vigyan Kendra, through which seeds were provided at a subsidised cost.

Three to four pickings could be done in a raised crop. At his own initiative, the farmer was involved in marketing a piece of corn cob at Rs.2 in retail outlets, including super market, departmental stores and also in restaurants.

With baby corn as an ingredient, value added food products such as soup, cutlet, pickle, manchurian, burfi and halwa could also be prepared and marketed.

N.K. Dhakshinamoorthy, Joint Director of Agriculture, told The Hindu, that baby corn cultivation could be promoted in Tuticorin and a team of officials would be involved in assessing market links. Apart from human consumption, Mr. Velraj said the commercial value crop also tended to serve dual purpose as green plant stalks had been used to feed livestock. After harvesting was over, the remains on cultivated acres had fetched good revenue.

An acre of plant stalks fetched a sum of Rs.15, 000 after cattle farmers procured it as fodder to increase milk yield, he said.

K. Rajasekar, Deputy Director, Cattle Breeding and Fodder Development, Department of Animal Husbandry, Tuticorin, when contacted, said a purchasing committee had been formed to fix price of such produce.

Next to procuring paddy straw, the remains of baby corn would be purchased as green fodder and maintained in six fodder procurement-cum-selling centres in the district, he said.