Staff Reporter

TIRUNELVELI: Comprehensive training programmes to enhance and fine-tune the operational skills of over 150 Assistant Horticultural Officers of some of the districts were recently organised at the Agricultural Support Centre, Palayamkottai, jointly by the National Horticulture Mission and the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University.

Since the Agricultural Support Centre of Agricultural College and Research Institute, Killikulam is offering training to farmers, public, corporate sectors, self-help groups, non-governmental organisations and officers from Department of Agriculture and Horticulture, the training programme was conducted at this centre.

40-day session

Assistant Horticultural Officers from Pudukottai, Ramanathapuram, Sivaganga, Virudhunagar, Tuticorin, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari attended the 40-day training programme, inaugurated by the Dean, Agricultural College and Research Institute, Killikulam, P. Vivekanandan. The training programme had been divided into five equal parts, in which 30 horticultural officers attended in every batch.

In all five training sessions organised by the experts, the participants were trained in handling extension materials, improving the observation power and enhancing their reporting ability. The topics dealt in the training programme included computer-aided extension materials preparation, effective use of audio-visual aids, utilizing advancement of information technology for the development of horticulture, report preparation, creative skill, change management, community mobilisation, basics of computer applications etc.

Pest management

Besides this, they were also trained in pest management in horticultural crops through organic farming practices, disease management through bio-control agents, bio-fertilizer application, importance of various traps in pest management, nutritional deficiencies in horticultural crops, importance of drip irrigation, fertigation and weed management.

The participants were taken to the farms at Karumpuliyooththu near Alangulam and Vannikonaendal near Sankarankovil, where the Department of Horticulture has introduced precision farming programme, under which the beneficiaries are reaping rich dividends by cultivating vegetables with hi-tech farming techniques such as fertigation.