Virudhunagar district to produce 12.5 tonnes of seeds
Summer cultivation of ‘Kuthiraivaali’ (Barnyard Millet), introduced for the first time by the Department of Agriculture, has been a hit among farmers of Virudhunagar district.
While, initially, officials found it tough to convince farmers to come forward to cultivate the minor millet as a major alternative crop to cotton and paddy, the success tasted by a few farmers has helped more farmers evince interest in this crop.
Virudhunagar has been chosen to produce 12.5 tonnes of ‘Kuthiraivaali’ seeds as part of the State government’s ambitious project to increase the area under millet cultivation to ensure food, fodder and livelihood security.
“We have given 125 kg of CO (KV) 2 seeds provided by Tamil Nadu Agricultural University to 25 farmers. Cultivation of minor millets has been taken up on 50 acres,” Joint Director of Agriculture K. Subbiah said. The seeds are expected to be ready by August for sowing in September across the State.
Deputy Director P. Vanniyarajan said diversification to millet cultivation, especially during summer, would give assured yield with higher returns.
P. Poongavanam, a farmer in W. Pudupatti, said he had increased the extent of summer cultivation to eight acres because of ‘Kuthiraivaali’ that consumed less than 50 per cent of the water required for paddy or cotton.
S. Vijayakumar (54) of Maharajapuram is used to rain-fed irrigation of ‘Kuthiraivaali.’ He expected more than double the yield now, thanks to the improved variety of seeds and modern irrigation technique.
Another farmer, R. Gnanagurusamy (63), said that cultivation of the minor millet had the advantages of less water and fertilizer, no pesticide and free from crop damage by birds and animals.
Input cost less
“The input cost is less because of decreased need for weeding and farm preparation,” he said.
Stating that the plants grew taller (up to 6.25 feet) under irrigated condition, the Assistant Director (Seed Certification), S. Ramamoorthy, said farmers had the benefit of getting more quantity of fodder.
Besides getting higher yield and higher price, farmers who have taken up ‘Kuthiraivaali’ for seed production are given higher price. “While the market price is Rs. 25 to 30 a kg, we have promised to give them Rs. 50 a kg,” Muthaiah, an Agricultural Officer, said.
The officials are also planning to set up a unit to process the minor millet at a cost of Rs. 2.20 lakh after forming a cluster of ‘Kuthiraivaali’ farmers. “The farmers will get a better price for value addition,” Mr. Vanniyarajan said.