Cultivation of tomato, which is normally taken up during the relatively dry seasons due to the tenderness of the plant, has been extended to wetlands with drainage facility also and surprisingly, it has become a profitable venture.
Tomato is being cultivated in the district on over 800 hectares under Tenkasi, Keezhappaavoor, Alangulam, Kadaiyanallur, Valliyoor blocks, which collectively produce about 8,000 to 8,200 tonnes. Usually, tomato is cultivated during ‘Aadipattam’ (July - August) and ‘Thaippattam’ (January - February) in the district. Since these seasons are fairly dry and conducive for the plants’ growth and yield, the fruits will not rot so easily.
Contrary to this regular and traditional practice, J. Arasappasamy from Thoppur in Kalakkad block has cultivated hybrid tomato variety – ‘Lakshmi’ - on half an acre wetland, where he used to cultivate banana.
“When we motivated the farmers to cultivate tomato during August-October on wetlands with excellent drainage facility as it will fetch them premium price, most of the agriculturists were hesitant. However, Mr. Arasappasamy’s experiment has got him significant revenue,” said the Assistant Director of Horticulture, C. Israel.
Instead of growing tomato extensively during a particular season, in which the farm produce fails to fetch good price for the growers, the farmers should go for the cultivation of some other crops, which enjoy good demand in the market, he suggested.
Another interesting aspect of Mr. Arasappasamy’s experiment is that he had used the casuarina poles to support the tomato plants.
“Since the farmer has got hundreds of unused casuarina poles, normally used to support the plantain saplings during the windy season, he used those sticks to make a horizontal ‘pandal’ on-which the tomato plants have been trained to grow against the normal practice of growing the hybrid tomato plants on long vertically-planted supports,” said S.S. Raja Mohamed, Horticultural Officer, Radhapuram.
On his novel venture, Mr. Arasappasamy said: “I’ve so far harvested 1.50 tonnes of tomato and sold the produce at Kaavalkinaru market at the rate of Rs.6 to 8 per kg, while the normal variety was sold at the rate of Rs.4 to 5. I am expecting 6 to 7 tonnes of tomato during this season. No doubt, it is a remunerative experiment”.