The model horticulture farm at Sundaramudiyan, the district’s first horticulture farm established in 1986 under the Drought-Prone Area Development Programme which later became a self-financing farm, continues to be the farmers’ best choice as it produces quality varieties of mango, guava, amla and sapota plants.
The farm, which faced the threat of closure after the government withdrew funds in 1996, received a new lease of life after Ramanathapuram District Development Agency (RDDA) took over the farm.
Farmers and government agencies flock the farm every year to procure high-quality amla, mango and sapota grafts and guava plants. Amla grafts are produced under cleft grafting method after procuring scion sticks from the best fruit-bearing amla fields in Theni district.
This year, the farm has already made ready, 50,000 amla grafts and would produce another 30,000 grafts by March, S. Nagarajan, Assistant Director of Horticulture, told The Hindu . The farm produced three varieties of amla – NA 7, which was the ruling variety, and Krishna and Kanchan, he said.
The farm also produced eight mango varieties, including export varieties of Himam Pasanth and Alphonso, adopting the approach grafting method, and it had already made ready about one lakh grafts of all varieties, he said.
Adopting the same grafting method, the farm produced three varieties of sapota, including PKM 1, the ruling variety. Using the ground-layering method, the farm produced guava plants, giving special focus to the high-yielding Lucknow 49.
Farmers from Virudhunagar, Sivaganga, Madurai, Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts visited the farm regularly to procure grafts and plants, Mr. Nagarajan said, and attributed the farm’s success to the dedication of workers, including about 40 local women.
Thanks to the encouragement from Collector K. Nanthakumar and RDDA Project Director A. Palani, the farm had been producing an average of two lakh grafts and plants every year and was all set to earn a record revenue of Rs. 1 crore this year, he said.
After the government withdrew funding, the RDDA commenced activities with a reserve of Rs. 17 lakh. The farm has a bank balance of Rs. 1.02 crore now. It had earned revenue of Rs. 60 lakh during 2008-09 and registered the highest revenue of Rs. 85.25 lakh during 2014-15.