Horticulture crops are getting an impetus in Visakhapatnam district once again with new techniques introduced to replace the traditional way of cultivation. Tomato and ivy gourd (Dondakaya - Coccinia grandis) are the two crops which have benefited a lot reaping rich dividends of the technology in the district.
Majority of the farmers used to cultivate tomatoes and ivy gourd in Anandapuram, Bhimili, Padmanabham and Sabbavaram mandals leaving the plants to crawl on ground till last year inflicting huge amount of damage to fruits wherever it rained heavily. “We encouraged one farmer during last season to go for tomato trellis and semi-permanent pandals in 40 cents of farm, which showed enormous increase in profits,” said Horticulture Officer Anuradha.
Getti Bala Suresh and Satya Suri Babu, brothers duo took to the new way of cultivating ivy gourd giving them good income at a time when none other had the produce to offer in the market. Current price is about Rs.400 for a bag of 30 kg. and two months ago when there was crisis the bags fetched them Rs.600.
During current year total area under horticulture crops has been increasing thanks to the slow-down in construction activity in the last two years and many new farmers were taking to new techniques suggested by the Horticulture Department.
“The department provides 50 per cent subsidy ranging between Rs.30,000 and Rs.60,000 for an acre for laying pandals or creating trellis,” she observed.
The ivy gourds are perennial plants that are traditionally cultivated for three years if an infrastructure was created.
“This system has reduced our labour expenses, as plucking the vegetables had become easier,” Suri Babu told The Hindu. Higher acceptability among the urban population and the plant being known for high nutritional and medicinal values, demand was increasing.
Use of space
For tomato trellis 8-foot-tall rot-resistant posts are grounded 18 inches deep, 5 feet apart, and join them at the top with galvanised iron wires. Strings are attached to the base of each plant with a non-slip knot then loop over the top bar, this allows stems to braid with the strings as the plants grow.
This helps use space efficiently, relatively inexpensive, provides good air circulation, wind-resistant if parallel to prevailing winds, Ms. Anuradha explained. The tomato yield had improved tremendously in the region with this trellis in place.