A record yield of 53.20 tonnes in three years has been achieved

Whatever the crop, it is the price that matters to farmers. “Getting a good price is essential for a farmer and especially for those growing crops like oilpalm, the price to a large extent depends on the international market over which we may not have much control.

Nevertheless we are trying our best to guide oilpalm farmers in India to get a good yield,” says Dr. S. Arulraj, Director, Directorate of Oil Palm Research, Pedavegi, Andhra Pradesh.

New start

Research on oil palm under irrigated conditions means practically a new start and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research established the National Research Centre for Oil Palm at Pedavegi in West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh in 1995.

It was upgraded as Directorate of Oil Palm Research (DOPR) to cater to the location specific programmes across the country.

The institute serves as a centre for conducting and co-ordinating research on all aspects of oil palm conservation, improvement, production, protection, post-harvest technology and transfer of technology. It also has a research centre at Palode near Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

“While it is true that in some areas of Andhra Pradesh and adjoining States farmers cut down their oil palm plantations in frustration of not being able to get a good price, there are also farmers like Mrs. Suma Kumar who has been able to get a record yield of 53.20 tonnes and also a good price from a hectare in three years,” says Dr. Arul Raj.

The Directorate of Oil Palm Research honoured her with the best farmer award during the recent Kisan Mela celebrations.

“This is the highest yield recorded so far in India,” says Dr. Arul Raj and adds the main reason being the innovative practices adopted by the farmer.

Intercropping

Suma Kumar planted the trees on 0.56 hectare 15 years ago.

She also cultivated banana as intercrop during the first and second year of planting to generate income.

Trenches were cut across the slope in the garden for draining excess water during monsoon. Mulching the palm basins using the cut fronds was also done to conserve moisture. Fertilizers were applied to the oilpalm crop in six split doses, thus, maximizing the fertilizer use efficiency.

In addition, she applied poultry manure mixed with neem cake available locally at low cost.

The poultry manure was kept for 2-3 months for decomposition in the trenches along with trash and cut leaves, and well decomposed material was applied in palm basins.

Care was taken to apply the manures and fertilizers within an area of three metre radius in the basin. In addition, tank silt was applied, once in five years, to the garden to improve the soil physical conditions.

Harvested tonnage

The farmer harvested 58.24 tonnes in 2009-10, followed by 46.71 tonnes in 2010-11 and 54.68 tonnes per hectare on January, 2012. Thus, during the last three years, she could achieve an average yield of 53.20 tonnes per hectare over a period of three years.

“We are ready and eager to address any issue or grievance from oilpalm farmers in the country.

“They can contact me on my mobile or office phone and our institute will try its best to solve any problem an oil palm farmer is facing,” assures Dr. Arul Raj.

Ready to guide

Oilpalm farmers can contact Dr. S. Arulraj, Director, Directorate of Oil Palm Research, Pedavegi - 534 450, Andhra Pradesh, email:dopr2009@gmail.com, Phone: 08812-259532 and 259409, mobile: 09491198244 and Mrs. M.S. Suma Kumar, Marse Village, Mandakahalli (P.O.), Varuna (Hobli), Mysore taluk and district, Karnataka, Mobile : 09986962289.