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«Date:06/06/2011 URL: Farmers of Tamil Nadu, Andhra show the way Shankar Bennur ...»

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Online edition of India's National Newspaper

Tuesday, June 06, 2011

Date:06/06/2011 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2011/06/06/stories/2011060661800700.htm

Farmers of Tamil Nadu, Andhra show the way

Shankar Bennur

Mechanised seedling planting minimises cost

Cultivation can now be done by just two persons by making one-time investment

Just 8 kg to 10 kg of seeds an acre needed, water consumption low, acreage more

— Photo: M.A. Sriram

Going hi-tech: A technician explaining the features of rice transplanter to farmers in Mysore.

MYSORE: Paddy cultivation has gone hi-tech. In Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, paddy growers are adopting new technology that can help minimise the cost of cultivation, especially of labour and seeds.

With farm workers migrating to works offered under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, thereby creating a shortage of labour for labour-intensive crops such as paddy, paddy cultivation can now be done by two persons by making a one-time investment.

Answer to shortage Thanks to the escalation of labour costs and short supply of farm workers, paddy growers have taken the cue from their counterparts in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and are showing interest in adopting technologies such as mechanised paddy seedling planting for minimising investments on the cultivation, especially on labour and seeds.

Now, the Department of Agriculture, Government of Karnataka, is promoting mechanised paddy transplantation — which, according to sources, had received good response in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh — among the farmers of Karnataka. The department provides 50 per cent subsidy to farmers for purchasing paddy transplanters which, the sources said, brought down labour from 20-25 persons an acre to two persons an acre.

Kannan, Area Sales Manager, Southern Agro Engine Private Limited, Chennai, says: “We have sold about 24 walk-behind type rice transplanters (Vijay Villiers Rice Transplanter) in Hassan, Chikmagalur, Kundapur, Sindhanur and Raichur.

Save on labour costs Two persons can do paddy transplantation in four acres a day and the fuel required per acre for operating the machine is 1.5 litres of petrol. Thirty per cent more yield can be expected if mechanised transplantation method is adopted.” Significantly, farmers can save money on the seeds as those required in mechanised rice transplantation is 8 kg to 10 kg an acre whereas the requirement is around 30 kg to 35 kg under normal transplantation method. At the same time, water consumption is reduced by nearly 40 per cent compared to the normal method.

Subsidy provided Paddy seedlings can be planted in 3 to 4 acres a day using the rice transplanters, whereas transplantation can be done on 2 to 3 acres in a day under the normal method, according to the data provided by the company.

Jayakumar, a representative of Nadaaf Farm Equipment, an authorised dealer for Kubota AgricultureMachinery, explains, “Our rice transplanter costs Rs. 9.9 lakh and 50 per cent subsidy is provided for buying the equipment. It has many special features and makes paddy transplantation an easy task. Paddy seedlings can be transplanted on an acre of land in an hour.” He said 12 rice transplanters had been sold in Bellary, Sindhanur and Davangere. Farmers in those places were transplanting paddy seedlings in seven acres a day. The machine can complete the task of 15 labourers in a day, he noted.

Mr. Jayakumar said awareness about mechanised paddy seedling transplantation was poor in Karnataka compared to Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

“Now that the Department of Agriculture is giving 50 per cent subsidy for purchasing rice transplanters and also promoting them among the farmers for achieving higher yields and minimising expenditure, more number of farmers may come forward to adopt the technology,” he added.

Agriculture Director K.V. Sarvesh, while speaking at a function organised to promote mechanised paddy cultivation here, said Rs. 100 crore had been set aside for giving subsidy to farmers for adopting mechanised paddy cultivation technologies.

Scope in Karnataka “There is scope for mechanised paddy sowing in the State where the paddy growing area is nearly over 13 lakh acres,” he said and added that mechanised paddy cultivation was being promoted under the National Food Security Mission.

Doddappa, a young farmer from Mysore taluk, says: “The rice transplanters can be beneficial for small and medium farmers like me. I am planning to adopt the technology.” Date:06/06/2011 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2011/06/06/stories/2011060661260500.htm Farmers welcome early opening of Mettur dam Special Correspondent Agriculture Department has planned to raise Kuruvai on 40,000 hectares Water is expected to reach the Grand Anicut on June 9 THANJAVUR: Farmers of Thanjavur and Tiruvarur districts are jubilant over the opening of Mettur dam on Monday for Kuruvai cultivation in the Cauvery delta districts.

It is for the first time in the history of the dam that water is being released for Kuruvai cultivation on June 6. Normally, water will be released for Kuruvai cultivation on June 12.

Comfortable storage at the dam (water level stood at 115 ft on Sunday and the storage was 85 tmcft) has made it possible for the government to advance the date and open the dam on June 6.

Farmers have welcomed the opening of the dam on June 6 and are ready for taking up Kuruvai cultivation. The Agriculture Department has planned to raise Kuruvai on 40,000 hectares each in Thanjavur and Tiruvarur districts.

PWD engineers said that water will be released from Mettur dam between 9 a.m. and 10.30 a.m. on Monday. Normally, water would be released from the dam in the evening. Water is expected to reach the Grand Anicut on June 9 and it will be released from there into the Cauvery, Vennar, Grand Anicut canal and Kollidam systems on the same evening.

In Thanjavur district, Agriculture Department officials have appealed to the farmers to raise Kuruvai under the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) method of cultivation. Under this method, seedlings will be raised on mat or polythene sheets and transplanted. It is enough if two kg of seeds are used for transplanting on one acre of land. Moreover, water requirement is less as seedlings can be transplanted in 12 to 15 days. In normal cultivation, they have to be transplanted after one month.

PWD engineers said that the season will be good this year as there is comfortable storage at Mettur dam and as the south west monsoon has set in. Opening of Mettur dam on June 6 will also help the farmers to reap the Kuruvai crop well in advance without getting into north east monsoon rain.

Last year, water was released from the dam on July 27 as the storage was poor.

Date:06/06/2011 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2011/06/06/stories/2011060661550600.htm Plan to bring 80% of kuruvai area under SRI

–  –  –

seeds of hope:Farmers sowing seeds for kuruvai cultivation in Thanjavur district.

THANJAVUR: For the current Kuruvai season in Thanjavur district thrust will be on the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) method of paddy cultivation.

As the Mettur dam will be opened on Monday and release of water from Grand Anicut scheduled on June 9 farmers of the district are busy preparing for Kuruvai cultivation.

Farmers were appealed to go for SRI to save water, reduce expenditure of cultivation, and increase the yield.

"Our aim is to achieve 100 per cent coverage under SRI method, but we hope to achieve at least 80 per cent. Last year 75 per cent of Kuruvai cultivation was under this method," said agriculture department officials.

Because of the efforts taken in popularising the method, farmers in many blocks have gone for SRI cultivation. The total paddy cultivation in Ammapettai block, Thirupandanal block, and Thiruvidaimaruthur block has been covered under the method.

The usual area under Kuruvai cultivation is 40,000 hectares in Thanjavur district. Of this, we plan to bring about 30,000 hectares under SRI method this year, the officials said.

Under the SRI method of cultivation, seedlings are raised on a mat or tarpaulin by spreading the soil upon it and sowing seeds.

Seedlings thus raised can be transplanted in 12 days instead of waiting for one month as under normal cultivation. This method of raising seedlings is called Madagascar method as it originated from Madagascar.

Thus water requirement is reduced.

Moreover 2 kg of seeds are enough for cultivation in one acre of land. Seedlings should be planted with 22.5cm gap between one seedling and another and also between one row and another. Konoweeder can be used to remove weeds.

Former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.Karunanidhi renamed the SRI method as Rajarajan 1000 method at the time of Millennium Celebrations of the Big temple. SRI method is now known as Rajarajan 1000 method of cultivation.

Agriculture department and private companies have distributed so far 800 tonnes of Kuruvai paddy seeds. The varieties include ADT43, ADT45 and ADT36.

Kuruvai cultivation has already started in pump set irrigated areas. Transplantation has so far been completed in pump set irrigated areas on 2500 hectares. Of this SRI method has been followed for raising paddy on 1900 hectares.

After the release of water from Mettur dam farmers depending upon canal irrigation will start their kuruvai cultivation.

Date:06/06/2011 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2011/06/06/stories/2011060655080300.htm Jackfruit's looks too matter: expert Special Correspondent ‘Careless handling, poor packaging will hamper its chances in global market' THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Infusion of post-harvest technology and value addition could open up global business opportunities for jackfruit farmers in Kerala and help them reap handsome returns, according to Ken Love, president, Hawaii Tropical Fruit Growers.

Talking to The Hindu here on Sunday, Mr. Love, who is here to attend the ongoing National Jackfruit Fest, said post harvest handling was crucial to tap the booming global market for tropical fruits like jackfruit. Careless handling and poor packaging could make fruits and valueadded products unacceptable for potential markets, he said.

“The value addition process should start from the tree itself,” said Mr. Love whose association produces 168 varieties of fruits from 750 farms spread over the U.S. State of Hawaii comprising a group of volcanic islands in the central Pacific Ocean. “Back home on our farms, every fruit growing on a tree is covered by a plastic bag. It improves the quality of the fruit and ensures higher sugar content. For the farmer it translates into better value for the product. Consumers, especially hotels and tourists, are ready to pay more for fruits of better looks and quality,” he said.

A farmer and a trained chef who also teaches at culinary schools, Mr. Love produces over 150 different products from his farm produce that includes jackfruit. “We have three jackfruit-based products, namely dried jack, jelly, and carpel in sugar syrup. All of them have a shelf life of six years.” Guinness record Mr. Love holds the Guinness record for producing the largest jackfruit of 39 kg. He said the Panduruthy variety weighing more than 50 kg from Tamil Nadu could make it to the Guinness Book if documents were submitted.

Technology, he said, could help farmers reach out to consumers across the world. He cited the example of localharvest.org, a website that would help consumers locate farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown crops in the U.S. and shop for organic food and grass-fed meat.

The website also hosts a community-supported agriculture initiative to promote seasonal farm produce by directly linking farmers to consumers. “The website not only lists market information, but also offers the facility to order products. It has helped small farmers stay in business,” he said.

At the Kanakakunnu Palace, the venue of the jackfruit fest, Mr. Love is participating in a live demonstration of making jelly and jam with longer shelf life.

He said that post-harvesting technology was imperative to reduce the wastage of jackfruit in Kerala. The immense market potential for powdered jackfruit seed was something that farmers here could exploit, he said.

Date:06/06/2011 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/2011/06/06/stories/2011060652951700.htm Spices Board begins nutmeg campaign Special Correspondent KOCHI: The Spices Board has launched a nationwide publicity campaign at Ponkunnam — a major nutmeg-growing area — to make farmers, traders and exporters aware of the harm caused by aflatoxins to spices.

Aflatoxins are a group of secondary metabolites of the fungi, Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasticus, and are rated as potent carcinogens.

The presence of aflatoxins in nutmeg and mace has caused much concern in Europe, where many rapid alerts have been issued on the quality aspects. Nutmeg and mace find wide application in food industry and medicine, and hence the stress on quality. Countries in the European Union, Middle East, South Africa, and Japan have been importing good quantities of these products from India.

The Spices Board's campaign focusses on the quality of nutmeg and mace produced in India.

Exporters, progressive farmers, and scientists from the Indian Institute of Spices Research, Kerala Agricultural University, and the Spices Board addressed the campaign meetings. The Board has released special literature on the subject besides an instructional video.

Campaign meets

Campaign meetings are to be held at Vanavarayar College of Agriculture at Meenakshipuram, Erattupettah, Edakunnam, Pariyaram, Adimali, and Kanjoor next week. Experts will interact with farmers at Thamarassery in Kozhikode district, Karuvarakundu in Malappuram district and Vaikom in Kottayam district. The campaign will be extended to nutmeg-growing areas along the Konkan coast. Interactions with nutmeg farmers are also planned in Raigad district of Maharashtra, where the crop is widely cultivated.

Aflatoxin is present in nutmeg primarily due to poor primary processing. As the crop is harvested in monsoon, drying by sun is not possible. Traditional methods used by farmers to dry the harvested crop are inadequate and during storage it is much susceptible to fungal attack. Thus drying of the produce at a safe moisture level at which growth of fungi and mould will be inhibited becomes an important step in nutmeg processing.

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