Efforts are being made to expand the cultivation of geographical indication (GI)-tagged Onattukara sesame.
Authorities have announced an incentive scheme for growing sesame on fields and homesteads in the Thekkekara Krishi Bhavan limits. Mavelikara Thekkekara grama panchayat president K. Mohankumar said that financial assistance of ₹40 for a cent of land would be given to farmers for cultivating sesame.
The project, which was launched recently, is a joint initiative involving the local Krishi Bhavan, Onattukara Vikasana Agency (OVA), Onattukara Regional Agricultural Research Station (ORARS), Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Kayamkulam, and Mavelikara Thekkekara panchayat.
Mr. Mohankumar said that the seeds would be distributed from Thekkekara Krishi Bhavan and the sesame produced under the scheme would be procured by the OVA paying the market price. “We aim to increase the area under sesame cultivation. Individuals, farming collectives, Kudumbashree groups, self-help groups, and joint liability groups will be given incentives for conducting sesame cultivation,” said the panchayat president.
He said that farmers and groups could utilise the workforce of Thekkekara Karshika Karma Sena and a tractor in its possession for preparing fields and other activities. The Karma Sena is charging ₹750 per hour for renting the tractor.
Onattukara sesame is currently grown on around 600 hectares spread across 43 local bodies in three districts of Alappuzha, Kollam and Pathanamthitta. The OVA, the registered owner of the GI-tagged sesame with Agriculture Minister P. Prasad as its chairman, plans to increase the area under sesame cultivation in the region to 2,000 hectares.
An analysis by Kerala Agricultural University revealed that the oilseeds have added medicinal value. Compared to other places, sesame grown in the region contains high levels of Vitamin E and antioxidants. It also contains oleic acid, linoleic acid, palmitoleic acid and so on which help maintain good health. Besides the traditional Ayali variety, farmers in the region are cultivating Kayamkulam-1, Thilak, Thilathara and Thilarani varieties — all developed by the ORARS.