‘Adopt drip irrigation and get water efficiency of up to 80%’

Drip irrigation at Kumulur in Tiruchi district. Photo: R.M.Rajarathinam   | Photo Credit: R_M_RAJARATHINAM

Though drip irrigation is ideal for banana and patronised in several parts of the country, it is unfortunate that farmers of the Cauvery delta have not realised its importance, M. M. Mustaffa, Director, National Research Centre for Banana (NRCB), said on Monday.

Talking to presspersons at the centre, near here, just ahead of the 19 Foundation Day, he pointed out that an acre of banana normally required 900-1200 millimetre of water. “By opting for drip irrigation you can save as much as 30 per cent to 40 per cent and thus extend your area as well.”

By going in for drip irrigation, the water use efficiency is 80 per cent whereas in the conventional method it is just 20 per cent to 30 per cent. Besides, drip irrigation is ideal for fertigation, which is extremely beneficial for the plants. Above all, drip irrigation helps the farmer monitor the banana garden better.

Mr. Mustaffa said this method of micro-irrigation had become extremely popular in States such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh. In Tamil Nadu, in districts such as Krishnagiiri, Dharmapuri, Theni, Coimbatore, and Erode it had excellent patronage.

Asked why the farmers of the delta region have not been favourably disposed to drip irrigation, G.Ajeethan, general secretary, Tamil Nadu Banana Growers’ Federation, said banana is a “water-loving crop.”

“Earlier we had excellent drainage system in the Cauvery flowing regions which helped banana cultivation. Now the available water is inadequate for the crop. While research institutions such as NRCB have excellent technology, it is quite unfortunate that extension wing of the agriculture\horticulture department has not been energetic enough to popularise the same.”

Later, speaking at the function, Mr.Mustaffa appealed to the farming community not to ignore the banana waste which could prove to be a bounty if it were to be converted into vermicompost.

He pointed out that the total banana area in the country is 8.3 lakh hectare producing as much as 298 lakh tonnes of banana. The waste generated works out to 375 lakh tonnes. And Tamil Nadu has the highest banana area in the country – 1.25 lakh hectare – producing 82.5 lakh tonnes of banana. Tamil Nadu’s productivity per hectare is the highest in the country with 65.8 tonnes.

According to him, the cost of fertilizer required to produce 298 lakh tonnes of banana is estimated to be Rs.1,847 crore. And if 375 lakh tonnes of waste are converted into vermicompost and recycled in banana production, the total worth of nutrients is Rs.913 crore (Only about 50 per cent of the total nutrients available in a banana tree goes towards the fruits while the rest remains with the other parts of the tree. Thus 50 per cent of the nutrients could be retained, he explained). Thus, saving in the cost of fertilizer, while recycling the waste through vermicomposting, works out to Rs.934 crore at the national level.

The director said that for an individual farmer vermicomposting could help bring down 50 per cent of the expense on banana cultivation. Besides, by selling the vermicompost, one could earn at least Rs. 5 per kg and for a hectare of banana, the vermicompost alone could fetch Rs.15, 000 to Rs.20,000. Besides, vermiwash that could be used as a spray on the plants could also be produced.

The recipients of the (Siranda Vazhai Vivasayi Virudu) awards at Foundation Day include A. Subramanian, Varadarajapuram, C.Vinayagamurthy, Thottiam, N. Seenivasan, Madurapuri, K. M. Barathraj, Kamayagoundanpatti, and N.Gopalakrishnan, Panikkampatti. A.P.Karuppiah, Theni, won Siranda Vazhai Thozhil Munaivor Virudu.

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Printable version | May 14, 2021 2:57:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Tiruchirapalli/adopt-drip-irrigation-and-get-water-efficiency-of-up-to-80/article3839301.ece

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