Tirunelveli district will host ‘Paddy Fest’ at Centenary Hall in Palayamkottai on Friday to expose the farmers to modern cultivation techniques being followed across the globe for getting attractive yield in the usually water-intensive crop by using less water, manure, chemical fertiliser.
Eighty per cent of the crop being cultivated by the farmers in this district is paddy with the Tamirabharani being the fulcrum of farming activities. The river keep farming operations alive in nearby Thoothukudi district while quenching the thirst of several lakhs of people from four southern districts including Virudhunagar.
Even though the farmers raise paddy on over a lakh acre in Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi districts every year, the yield is not much impressive as most of the farmers still stay away from applying modern techniques.
“We’ve planned this festival in which experts from rice research institutes, faculty from the Tamil Nadu Agriculture University and the Agricultural Colleges and successful farmers will meet the farmers to explain to them the techniques available today to improve the yield substantially. We’ve also planned to display the farm implement which exponentially reduce the expenditure. There is also a plan to attract as many farmers towards organic farming practices to reduce ill-effects of chemical fertilisers and pesticides,” said Collector V. Vishnu.
The district administration aims to educate the farmers on the techniques to be employed - right from selecting the seeds to scientifically storing the harvested paddy.
“The farmers, with the help of videos, will be explained about soil test, certified seed selection, production of quality seeds, mat nursery, mechanised transplantation, direct sowing, irrigation, water management, pest management, weeding, harvesting and storage of harvested paddy. The farmers will be explained about the modern techniques involved at every stage of paddy cultivation,” he said.
Since the farmers cultivate paddy in two seasons – ‘kar’ (between June and September during southwest monsoon) and ‘pisanam’ (between October and January during northeast monsoon) – every year, the SRI (System of Rice Intensification) is suitable for the ‘kar’ paddy season.
“In SRI technique, the farmers have to irrigate the paddy and the leave the field without irrigation for a few days that causes cracks in the field. Consequently, the crop develops unusually strong root system with more ventilation to increase the yield with less quantity of water. Since the intermittent drizzle or rain during the northeast monsoon will not be suitable for allowing the field to get dry, we encourage the farmers to go in for SRI technique during the ‘kar’ paddy season. This technique will be explained to the farmers and about the implements being used in this method including planting and weeding,” he said.
Another interesting feature to be displayed is paddy cultivation with sprinklers and drip irrigation even as the farmers firmly believe that the flood irrigation technique alone would give them good yield.