Tamil Nadu, which has been lagging behind the rest of the country in the production and productivity of pulses, is making all-out efforts to catch up with others.

Since 2001-2002, the State's productivity in pulses has been around 375 kg per hectare.

The area coverage has been 5.7 lakh hectares. The production has been of the order of two lakh tonnes annually.

However, at the national level, the productivity is nearly 660 kg per hectare and the State's contribution in pulses production is a little more than one per cent.

But, Tamil Nadu is known as one of the major consumer of pulses. For example, the State government is supplying through the special public distribution system approximately 14,000 tonnes of toor dhal and 10,000 tonnes of urad dhal every month.

Given the fact that Tamil Nadu is a pulse-deficit State, the Union and State governments are seeking to promote the production of pulses under the Accelerated Pulses Production Programme (APPP) as part of the National Food Security Mission (NFSM). Farmers are given inputs free and technical advice on nutrient and pest management.

Fully funded by the Central government, the APPP is being implemented in eight districts, of which four are in the northern belt. Except Vellore where red gram is being raised, black gram is produced in other seven districts – Tiruvannamalai, Cuddalore, Villupuram, Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur, Thanjavur and Tuticorin.

The Union government has sanctioned about Rs. 7.1 crore. Besides, the production of pulses is encouraged through the National Agriculture Development Programme, under which Rs. 2.7 crore has been sanctioned for the production of red gram.

Yield increase

Thanks to such programmes, the State hopes to double its productivity this time, a senior official of the State Agriculture Department says.

As of now, in the demonstration fields of Tirupattur block, the yield has gone up to around 870 kg per hectare from 465 kg per hectare, which was the previous year's average.

Compared to 2009-2010, the State-wide coverage of pulses this year is about one lakh hectares more. At present, it is 8.4 lakh hectares. Eventually, the State will reach about 9.5 lakh hectares.

The official explains that traditionally, farmers of the State do not raise pulses as a pure crop. They have been treating pulses as an inter-crop or a bund crop or rice fallow. This is why the productivity has been low.

Now, under the Central government-funded programmes, the authorities are providing quality inputs and helping the farmers with their expertise on pest and nutrient management. For every hectare covered under the demonstration project of APPP, inputs of 20 kg are given to the farmers at a cost of Rs. 5,400. Also, the support is given to them on a cluster basis.

The farmers are encouraged to form groups so that they get better returns, while dealing with traders. It is on these lines that the APPP is being implemented over two units of 1,000 hectares in Tirupattur and Kandhili blocks of the Vellore district.

Pointing out that red gram is essentially raised as a rain-fed crop in districts such as Vellore, the official adds that the plan is to cover the crop under micro irrigation.

More In: Tamil Nadu | National