B. Aravind Kumar

13 units of 1,000 ha each to be set up for cultivation

CHENNAI: The State government is on a mission to double the production of pulses from 2 lakh tonnes to over 4 lakh tonnes this year.

At present, Tamil Nadu produces 2.05 lakh tonnes from 6.5 lakh ha. The mission is to double this to 4.5 lakh tonnes with a target area of 8.50 lakh ha, said a senior official of the Agriculture Department.

With the objective of demonstrating plant nutrient and plant protection-centric technologies and management in composite blocks for motivating farmers to take up pulse production, the Agriculture Department will set up 13 units with 1,000 ha each for cultivation across the State.

“Initially, red gram cultivation will be taken up in Tirupathur and Kandhili blocks of Vellore district and black gram cultivation in Polur and Kalasapakkam blocks of Thiruvannamalai district in the kharif season,” said the official. In the rabi season, ten more demonstration blocks would be set up in Thiruvannamalai, Cuddalore, Villupuram, Thanjavur, Nagapattinam, Thiruvarur and Thoothukudi districts.

“Pulses were grown mostly as an intercrop during groundnut cultivation in rain-fed areas leading to low productivity. In these demonstration farms, pulses cultivation will be taken up as a pure crop under irrigated conditions,” said an Agriculture Extension Officer.

The government would distribute critical inputs at a cost of Rs.5,400 per ha as part of the Accelerated Pulse Production Programme (A3P) under the National Food Security Mission. The Joint Directors of Agriculture had been asked to select the farmers and distribute the required inputs of seeds, fertilizers, seeds, pesticides and credit by May-end, officials said.

Besides, the government would set up seed farms to distribute nearly 4,000 tonnes of high-yielding seed varieties developed by International Crops Research Institute for the Semi Arid-Trpics (ICRISAT) and Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU). It had constituted a task force with the Chief Secretary as Chairman to double pulses production.

The Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation, which imported lentils from Canada and dhal from Myanmar last year, would fix a fair price for the produce of pulses grown in these demonstrative areas so as to benefit farmers and, at the same time, ensuring this was not detrimental to the government, said the officials.