Nearly 350 acres of chilli cultivating lands in Tiruvallur district are turning pesticide-free this season.
The farmers are cultivating the US 341 variety of chillies through the Integrated Horticultural Development Scheme. The variety is known for its colour, flavour and pungency and is expected to give double the yield of the usual Ananya variety that they grow, said District Collector Alby John Varghese, who launched the Red Revolution in eight blocks on Wednesday.
“The Horticulture Department provides the saplings at a subsidy. Farmers get 20,000 saplings per hectare at ₹20,000, which translates to ₹1 per sapling. The crop duration is three months. They have tied up with Aachi Masala to buy the produce,” he said.
About 2,216 acres of land was under vegetable cultivation in the district, of which chillies were grown on 706 acres of land. However, most of it is sold as green chillies and due to this, farmers do not get good rate since they have no other go but to sell according to the day’s rate in the market. “If the chillies are dry, they have more shelf life and the farmers can sell them at a better price,” Mr. Varghese said.
The Nalla Keerai organisation is hand-holding the farmers through the crop since it was a new variety. Nalla Keerai Jagan said they were controlling pests through three methods. One of them was inter-cropping by growing crops like Agathi, Aamanakku, Thuvarai, Karamani and Ulundhu that would divert the pests.
“We are also using a mix of punga and neem oil and use light traps. Last year, we had a trial in Tiruvallur. This year, it has been expanded to more districts including Sivaganga, Ramanathapuram and Tenkasi. The government had announced it and they are spending ₹2 crore for buying seeds for these districts,” he added.