Officials tell farmers
At the beginning of this millennium, Madurai district's total crop area (or cultivable land) stood at slightly above the one lakh hectare mark.
Today, it has shrunk to 60,000 ha, which, in terms of percentage, works out to a little over 40 per cent.
While officials of the Agriculture Department do agree that there is an urgent need to stop cultivable lands from being converted into housing plots, which is being done under the pretext of urbanisation, they, however, maintain that technological advancements in the agriculture sector had come in handy. This has compensated the loss in production.
That the district, after eight long years, has achieved a record bumper paddy crop in the just concluded season is good news to all farmers.
The Agriculture Department, Chennai, recently announced that a farmer, Maduraisamy (58) of Porusupatti in East block here, had bagged the State second prize for producing 14,577 kilograms of paddy per hectare from his land.
Last week, a progressive woman farmer, Latha Govindasamy, also from Porusupatti, was declared winner in the district-level for producing 12,584 kilograms of paddy per hectare.
The second prize went to Murugesa Pandian of Samayanallur who had produced 12,204 kg/ha, officials said. Agriculture Department Joint Director P. Sankaralingam said that they had taken a plenty of steps in the past and this reflected now in the form of yield. The news that a farmer from this district had bagged the State second prize for bumper paddy crop motivated small and marginal farmers, who are in an upbeat mood.
“Our farmers are enquiring from field level officers about the technology which helps improve production…They are curious to learn the nuances…This is a good indicator,” he told ‘The Hindu.'
Soil health card
The assistant agricultural officers have been told to campaign among farmers to get their soil tested through the testing laboratory near Meenakshi Temple here.
This would give information about the levels of fertility, salinity, acidity and alkalinity.
Further, the experts may recommend on the lime status, which is prevalent in Kalligudi and Tirumangalam areas in the district. Farmers can also learn about the crop that is suitable for them and avoid those crops which may not be lucrative.
Deputy Director (Agriculture) N.D. Sampath Kumar said that so far 41,633 farmers in the district had been issued leaf colour charts (LCC), which helps them in assessing the growth of the standing crop and accordingly feed fertilizers.
The farmers are advised not to use old seeds as it may not have the vigour. “We are now focussing on use of organic manure and suggesting green manure seeds, which helps in high yield,” he asserted.
Assistant Director (Madurai East Block) S. Kanagaraj said that the Raja Rajan technique of growing paddy crop was picking up phenomenally as many enthusiastic and progressive farmers were coming forward to use the facilities and benefit.
The need of the hour was to create awareness in a big way among farmers of preserving their piece of agricultural land and cultivate it by adopting the latest techniques, the officials said.