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You can take a leaf out of Sujatha’s book

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Operation success: Sujatha explaining the advantages of drip irrigation system at her field at Pallappatti on Friday.
Operation success: Sujatha explaining the advantages of drip irrigation system at her field at Pallappatti on Friday.

L. Renganathan

“People tried to scare me away, but I was determined to overcome obstacles”

KARUR: Imaginative planning and innovative application of mind and farm subsidies are reaping rich dividends for a progressive woman farmer who has developed an ‘oasis’ amidst the parched Pallappatti belt in Karur district.

Hailing originally from Una district in Himachal Pradesh Sujatha has carved a niche for herself in successfully raising medicinal plants and profitably marketing them as well, setting an example for others to follow. Remarkably reading the situation, adapting well to the demands and applying her fully to the task on hand, Mrs. Sujatha has transformed a big patch of land in her adopted village Pallappatti into a virtual green cover raising the lucrative medicinal plant glory lily (gloriosa superba) and NP 2 variety of green fodder for her stock of cattle in her integrated farm.

Manual labour reduced

While she has put in place drip irrigation system for her medicinal plant farm, Mrs. Sujatha has installed a mechanised sprinkler irrigation system for her cattle fodder fields. Effective and frugal utilisation of the available ground water in the arid tracts of Aravakurichi-Pallappatti belt has not just benefited her directly but also has helped her in reducing dependency on manual labour that is hard to come by these days.

Mrs. Sujatha raises glory lily, a highly poisonous plant that has immense medicinal qualities. The lethal seed of the plant is the major marketable commodity for which the plant is raised and that fetches a remunerative price in the herbal plant market. The tuber plant is a three-year crop after which fresh tubers need to be planted for sustaining the profit margins, she added. Waste tubers could also be chopped and sold.

Usually the tubers germinate in the month of Aadi (corresponding to August) and have a growth period of eight months when the seeds from the plants are ready for harvest. Initially the yield was 300 kg per acre and sustained work and experimentation has resulted in a slight increase of around 50 kg. The seeds fetch Rs.1,100 per kg during peak season. In the first year she cultivated glory lily on seven acres and by the second year she gained in confidence to bring over 30 acres under the poisonous herb.

Open flood irrigation

“We resorted to open flood irrigation in the seven acres during the first year, but we decided to install drip irrigation system by utilising government subsidies and the results are there for all to see. Now a total of 15 acres is under drip irrigation system and more is to follow. We have made definite gains in water, time and human resources management to maximize profits,” she observed.

People tried to scare me away from taking up glory lily cultivation but I was determined to overcome obstacles and show that I can do it, says Mrs. Sujatha in fluent Tamil acknowledging the role of her husband Balaguru, a native of Pallappatti in her progress through the poisonous fields of the attractive red and yellow flower.

She is now helping other farmers to raise the plant, fully satisfied that her efforts have been rewarded.

Assistant General Manager, Micro Irrigation, Tamil Nadu Horticulture Development Agency, J. Zakir Hussain, and the Deputy Director of Horticulture R. Kandsamy visited Mrs. Sujatha’s farm to see for themselves the effects of micro irrigation techniques in medicinal plant farms.

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