The soaring price of Indian gooseberry (Nelli), also known as amla, has kept farmers happy here. Currently, amla, a horticulture crop, fetches them better price than mango in market. The high medicinal value crop is being cultivated in Radhapuram, Alangulam, Pappakkudi and Cheranmahadevi blocks of Tirunelveli district.
A progressive farmer, K. Nala Ravindran of Puduppatti in Pappakkudi block, is jubilant over the price of amla — Rs.30 to Rs.35 per kilo — whereas mangoes (Neelam variety) fetched Rs.20 to Rs.25 per kg at Alangulam market.
He said here on Sunday that Kerala was the major buyer of amla from Tirunelveli. Under the National Mission Micro Irrigation scheme, 600 amla trees and 300 trees of mango and sapota had been cultivated on his wasteland with the assistance of National Horticulture Mission (NHM). All the trees were drip irrigated.
According to S. Raja Mohammed, Deputy Director of Horticulture, Tirunelvei district, amla (Emblica officinalis or Phyllanthus emblica), is a drought-resistant crop and grows in variable soil conditions.
It withstands water stagnation too. The special feature is its capacity to retain vitamin ‘C’ even in a dried state, which is not possible in other fruits.
He said the extracts of amla fruit were mostly being used in ayurvedic and homeopathic preparations to prevent grey hair and hair fall.
Among fruit crops, cultivation of amla has increased considerably. Prior to the launch of NHM in 2005-06, the district saw 900 hectares of amla cultivation. But, its cultivation area increased gradually to 2,600 hectares during 2013-14 after the launch of the NHM, through which subsidy was offered.
With a considerable allocation of funds through the NHM in this current fiscal, thrust would also be given on post-harvest management of horticulture produces, including amla.
The official said Tirunelveli district was blessed with a unique feature of having both tropical crops such as mango, guava, lime, sapota and amla and temperate crops such as mangosteen, rose apple, rambutan, pepper, arecanut, nutmeg and clove contributing 31,431 hectares of horticultural crops.
Of the total field area, 19,530 hectares were under fruit crops, 3,680 hectares under vegetables crops, 2,530 hectares under spices and condiments, 115 hectares under medicinal crops, and 4,200 hectares under plantation crops, he said.
Flowers were also grown on 1,375 hectares, Mr. Mohammed said.