A Kerala model in Vattaru

KAU technology brings luck for Maldives farmers

February 27, 2018 07:23 pm | Updated 07:23 pm IST - Thrissur

Technical support from Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) is helping Maldives farmers reap rich harvests.

The Vattaru island in the Maldives shares almost same climatic condition that of Kerala. So when E.C. Manoharan, a civil engineer form Thrissur, took KAU technology and seeds there, the effort was more or less smooth.

Manoharan from Perinjanam first went to Maldives in 2011 to carry out some civil engineering works. He went there again in 2013 to the Vattaru island construct a boat house and terminal.

Noticing the Kerala-like farming pattern and climate of the island, Manoharan convinced people of Vattaru that the seeds and planting materials from Kerala will be more suitable for them than the seeds imported from European countries.

He got in touch with scientists of KAU and selected varieties with their advice. The bitter gourd variety Preethi gave highly encouraging results. The greatest surprise came from watermelon. When he heard about seedless water melon varieties Swarna and Shonima, he contacted T. Pradeep Kumar who developed them and took seeds to the island.

These varieties, which produce fruits of maximum 3 kg in normal Kerala conditions, gave fruits of 8 to 10 kg in Vattaru. The islands being a tourist destination, the seedless water melons were a big hit. The fruit now fetches a price of ₹120 a kg, where as the average price of watermelon in Kerala is only one tenth of it.

“Besides watermelon, I promoted the cultivation of bitter gourd, bottle gourd, brinjal and cucumber in Vattaru. Cultivation of these varieties is taken up in 40 ha in the island. All these crops give good yields. We resort to artificial pollination techniques since natural pollination agents like bees and butterflies are not common in Vattaru. Seedless watermelon is sought after in resorts of Maldives and fetches a price of ₹900 for a fruit. It is a good bargain for farmers,” says Mr. Manoharan. Cowdung is the main manure and organic solutions are the main pesticides used, he adds.

Dr. Pradeep Kumar says the success story of seedless water melon in Maldives reflected in a communication from Union Minister for Agriculture in which he sought steps to popularise cultivation of these varieties across India.

A project proposal for massive seed production of these varieties has already been submitted and response is awaited, says the scientist, who later developed a hybrid variety of seedless salad cucumber as well. Our coastal areas are also suitable for the seedless varieties and good harvests could be very profitable, he says.

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