Small-scale farmers in the Nilgiris will benefit if there is a centre of excellence in the district, said Hubbathalai N. Sivan, small-scale organic farmer and admin of Nilgiris Nectar Organic.
In a memorandum to the State government, he said the centre should be established in tie-up with Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) and governments of countries such as Netherlands or Israel to impart innovation and skill development training and to encourage agri business entrepreneurs.
Further, the State government should allocate funds to promote value-addition and processing of fruits and vegetables, set up speciality tea processing units at village level and to market the products.
Mr. Sivan said the Nilgiris was cultivating and producing carrot as the second largest green crop next to tea. The district needed around 20,000 kg of carrot seeds, mostly imported and supplied through traders. But, the seeds were available only at high price to micro and small farmers of the Nilgiris. The government should import the seeds directly from carrot seed producers from France/Holland/Spain through the Department of Horticulture and supply at reasonable prices to micro and small farmers.
Apart from these, Mr. Sivan said, the ailing micro and small tea farmers, who supplied green tea leaves to Bought Leaf Factories and INDCO Tea Factories, were not getting remunerative prices though the farmers had improved the quality parameters in green tea leaves. Green tea leaf was an agricultural perishable produce like milk, sugarcane, turmeric and cotton. The tea farmers needed long-lasting solutions from the State government by fixing Minimum Support Price for green tea leaves of micro and small tea farmers of the Nilgiris.