TAMIL NADU

Sunflower turns money-spinner

READY FOR HARVEST: A sunflower farm at Mylaadi. - PHOTO: M. GOVARTHAN

READY FOR HARVEST: A sunflower farm at Mylaadi. - PHOTO: M. GOVARTHAN  

R. Sundaram

ERODE: Farmers here have switched to sunflower cultivation as it is earning them more revenue.

A 110-day crop, it is now fetching Rs. 18 to Rs. 20 a kg for the hybrid "Kargil" variety and Rs. 16 to Rs. 18 for the normal local variety.

Shortage in farm labourers and rising input costs are the main reasons for the shift from cultivating paddy. Sunflower needs less water compared to paddy. Even the Agriculture Department has proposed the cultivation of sunflower, besides tapioca and sugarcane.

In Erode, sunflower is raised in 2,000 hectares mainly at Muthur, Vellakoil, Chennimalai and Mylaady. The crop is in good condition. "I have raised sunflower on over 2 hectares.

I have purchased hybrid sunflower seed, Said Govindasamy, a farmer of Mylaady.

Bird menace is very high till 7.30 a.m. and in the evening between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Parrots and peacocks visit the land for the seeds. Even after accounting for the loss, he was getting 2.25 tonnes of sunflower seed from a hectare, Mr. Govindasamy said.

Farmers bursts crackers or play recorded voice of thunder and lightning to scare away the birds.

Since the demand for sunflower oil is on the rise, the regulated markets at Vellakoil, Muthur, Kodumudi, Bhoodapady and Anthiyur are witnessing huge sale of the seeds.

The Regulated Marketing Committee authorities said that during 2006-2007 (till December) 28,212 tonnes of sunflower seeds were sold at the markets. Of this, 90 per cent of the crop was sold at the Vellakoil Regulated Market.

Between 2001 and 2006 only 20,329 tonnes of sunflower seeds were sold at the regulated markets. This year alone 28212 tonnes were sold.

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