Oddanchatram farmers reap profit against odds

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NO DROUGHT of IDEAS: Officials inspecting a medicinal plant farm at Kaliappa Koundan Valasu near Kallimandhayam in Dindigul district on Thursday.
NO DROUGHT of IDEAS: Officials inspecting a medicinal plant farm at Kaliappa Koundan Valasu near Kallimandhayam in Dindigul district on Thursday.

K. Raju

They earn Rs.4 lakh from an acre in a season

DINDIGUL: Even as groundwater level going below 600 feet and rains becoming a rare phenomenon, farmers at several villages in Oddanchatram block have managed to raise crops and get a decent profit thanks to introduction of minor irrigation system under National Mission on Medicinal Plants programme.

Now, hundreds of farmers in and around Kallimandhayam raise cash crop Superbily, (botanical name Gloriosa superba), popularly known as ‘Kanvali Kizhangu,’ in 250 hectares earning a profit of Rs.4 lakh per acre in a season.

Drip irrigation is their prime tool to utilise limited quantum of irrigation water in borewells to raise the crop. Just one to two hours of pumping from bore wells is suffice to irrigate around 10 acres of land. Introduction of fertigation also reduces time and cost.

But hand pollination increases labour costs. On an average, the farmers get 250 to 300 kg of Superbily seeds every season. Now, Superbily seeds sell at Rs.1,600 a kg. But 10 years ago, it was just Rs.250 a kg., according to R. Nataraj who grows medicinal plants on 15 acres at Paraivalasu village.

“But initial investment is very high. We invest Rs.6 lakh for tubers (seeds) alone and Rs.1 lakh for fencing and ‘pandhal’ to spread the creeper plant. But the government estimated the initial investment as Rs.1.37 lakh and released 50 per cent subsidy at Rs .68,750 only. Increase in subsidy will help more farmers raise medicinal plants,” K. Kalimuthu, another farmer, said.

Interacting with farmers at Kallimandhayam on Thursday, Officer in-charge of Micro Irrigation in the State, Zahir Hussain, advised officials to send fresh proposals to release more subsidy to farmers. Scope for medicinal plants was very bright in Dindigul district, he said.

Already, Dindigul district had achieved over 103 per cent in release of subsidy as it delivered subsidy for 75 hectares against the target of 72 hectares. Madurai, Erode and Tirunelveli districts also performed exceedingly well in implementation of National Mission on Medicinal plants.

Horticulture officials told that farmers in 100 hectares were in need of subsidy. Deputy Director (Horticulture) S. Ganesan and Assistant Director M. Thangasamy accompanied him.

In 2008, Department of Horticulture had formed a medicinal plant cluster covering many villages including Pottikampatti, Kallimandhayam, Chikkama Naickenpatti and 16-Pudhur villages in this block to produce Superbily.




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