The conventional millet variety of ‘varagu’ has been gaining popularity, particularly among farmers in the rain-fed blocks in the district. About 200 acres of land has been brought under the crop mostly in Annavasal, Kundrandarkovil, Pudukottai, and Gandarvakottai blocks in the district.
A group of farmers of Melur village near Annavasal in the district who commenced the harvest of ‘varagu’ on Thursday, pointed out that they were hopeful of harvesting at least 500 kg an acre. They have shifted to ‘varagu’ from the conventional crop, including paddy, in the light of failure of monsoon in the last few years.
The duration of this crop ranges between 160 and165 days and it needs moderate showers of about 350 mm all through the season.
“There has been a sudden increase in the number of farmers raising ‘varagu’ in the rain-fed areas.
About 150 farmers had raised the crop in the above four blocks this season,” says A. Adhappan, founder of the Pudukottai District Organic Farmers Producers Company.
He says although the average yield could be 500 kg an acre, the yield would be higher if farmers adopted crop protection techniques, particularly clearing of weeds.
The processing of the ‘varagu’ involves several procedures. “Unlike paddy, ‘varagu’ needs special machinery for hulling,” he says.
The company purchases ‘varagu’ for a price ranging between Rs.1,500 and Rs.1,700 a quintal which is Rs. 200 in excess of the market price which fluctuates between Rs. 1,300 and Rs. 1,500 during the post-harvest period.