GROWING DEMAND:Collector N. Venkatachalam and officials inspecting a field at Kothapulli near Reddiyarchatram in Dindigul district on Tuesday, on which Gloriosa superba has been cultivated.— PHOTO: G. KARTHIKEYAN
Even as groundwater level was depleting below 700 feet and rains were becoming a rare phenomenon, farmers at several villages in Oddanchatram and Reddiyarchantram blocks in the district managed to get a decent profit, thanks to Superbily, with the botanical name Gloriosa superba, locally known as ‘Kanvali Kizhangu,’ on 1,600 hectares.
This medicinal plant fetches a profit of Rs.4 lakh per acre in a season on an investment of Rs.1 lakh to Rs.1.5 lakh.
Despite good demand in the market throughout the year, medicinal plant growers had to transport the produce to Moolanur in Tirupur district to sell it. Middlemen guzzled up a sizeable portion of their profit because it is a major export product.
Farmers appeal to the district administration to establish a marketing facility within the district to draw buyers and importers.
Such a measure will create a common platform for farmers to meet the buyers directly eliminating middlemen, they add.
Hand pollination is the crucial part in growing this plant. It increases labour costs.
On an average, the farmers get 300 to 400 kg of Superbily seeds every season. Market for Superbily is also stable, according to horticulturist V. Dhanraj of Kothapulli village in Reddiyarchatram, who grows medicinal plants on 2.8 acres of land.
Drip irrigation helps in using minimum available water in the borewells to effectively raise the crop.
Even a few hours of pumping from borewells will suffice to irrigate the land and introduction of fertigation also reduces the cost, he says.
“But the initial investment is very high. We have to invest heavily for tubers (seeds) and for fencing and ‘pandhal’ to enable the creeper to grow and spread. The government has offered 50 per cent subsidy. Increase in subsidy will help more farmers raise medicinal plants,” Mr. Dhanraj adds.
Scope for growing medicinal plants is very high in Dindigul district, says Deputy Director M. Ramanathan.
Funds have been released under the National Mission on Medicinal Plants to increase the area under medicinal plant cultivation.
While interacting with farmers, Collector N. Venkatachalam assured them that Tamil Nadu Agro Produces Marketing Committee will take steps to establish a marketing centre on its campus to sell the seeds and help farmers get better price for their produce.