Small and marginal farmers, hitherto cultivating vegetables under conventional method, have slowly started shifting to shade-net technique for higher yields with premium price, thanks to the lucrative subsidy available under National Horticulture Mission (NHM).
To achieve the goal of reducing yield gaps in important crops like vegetables and flowers through focused interventions like protected cultivation, and to maximize the returns to the farmers, the NHM was being implemented in the district. Thanks to the conducive agro-climatic conditions like soil temperature, which is best suited for cluster beans, chillies, coriander, etc., farmers in Alangulam block are shifting from conventional cultivation practices to hi-tech methods such as shade-net cultivation for higher yield after being motivated by the Department of Horticulture.
Farmers of Alangulam block prefer cultivation of high yielding variety (PNB) cluster beans and hybrid chillies (Ananya) to the traditional variety, for the yield and the attractive price they get for the crops in Alangulam, Sankarankoil, Tirunelveli markets. Under the NHM, a subsidy of Rs.300 per square metre is being given to farmers to a maximum of 1,000 sq.m. per beneficiary for cultivating vegetables under shade-net.
During 2013 - 2014, shade-nets were established on 4,500 sq.m. area with a subsidy of Rs.13.50 lakh for this component under the NHM, says S. Raja Mohamed, Deputy Director of Horticulture, Tirunelveli.
Progressive farmer R. Somasundaram from Shanmugapuram in Alangulam block, growing cluster beans, says he was growing it on 500 sq.m. under shade-net conditions with fertigation system. He has been harvesting about 150 kg cluster beans twice a week and selling them for about Rs.20 to Rs.25 per kg.
“As of now, I am getting about Rs.10,000 as profit from cluster beans in three months,” Mr. Somasundaram adds.
Vegetable farmers at Shanmugapuram were troubled by peacocks. Since they have switched to shade-net cultivation, the peacocks are kept at bay.
Another farmer, S. Johnson, a hybrid chilli grower from Sivalarkulam, is growing hybrid chilli and coriander on 500 sq.m. under shade-net conditions with sprinkler irrigation. “I’m able to get Rs.1,000 from 20 kg coriander being grown as an intercrop. I am getting Rs.2,000 from hybrid chillies. I am expecting another Rs.4,000 to Rs.6,000 from chilli,” Mr. Johnson says.
The Department of Horticulture has started establishing shade-nets in Keezhapaavoor, Kadayam, Tenkasi and Palayamkottai blocks, benefitting seven farmers. “We expect more vegetable growers to join this programme,” Mr. Mohamed added.