R. Vimal Kumar

Tuticorin: The Department of Horticulture plans to introduce precision farming on 200 hectares under vegetables, flowers and banana in the district during the next financial year, at estimated cost of Rs.80 lakh.

Speaking to The Hindu, T. Ladislaus Gasper, Deputy Director of Horticulture, said that the project would help farmers to move from productive to profitable and sustainable to competitive agriculture as the technique was less labour dependent and consumes about 30 per cent less water vis-À-vis conventional cultivation practice.

Under the scheme, financial assistance in the form of subsidy would be extended to farmers to establish micro-irrigation systems and help them to adopt ‘improved package practices’ like usage of certified seeds and bio-fertilizers.

The subsidy to the farmer to purchase micro-irrigation systems would be limited to 50 per cent of the cost of the gadget or maximum price ceiling set for specified crop spacing as well as for the area covered under the crop, which ever was less.

Mr. Gasper said that the assistance would be restricted to five hectares per beneficiary family. To be selected as beneficiary, a farmer should have land holding in his name either by way of ownership or lease. Besides, he or she should have dependable source of water for the area proposed to be brought under micro-irrigation and power connection in his name. A committee headed by the Collector would monitor the implementation of the project.

Pest attack

Mr. Gasper said that the department also plans to give adequate focus to combat pest attack on banana crop during the next financial year. “We are planning to disseminate the technology of seed treatment to the farmers to overcome the pest problems,” he added.