Papaya cultivation is gaining popularity among a section of farmers in the district, as they get assured returns and remunerative price for the produce.
A group of farmers from Annamangalam near here have taken up papaya cultivation a year ago, taking due advantage of the growing demand for the fruit with rich medicinal value.
The growing demand for their produce can be gauged from the fact that traders from Chennai arrive at the village periodically to buy the fruits, there by extending an assured market to the farmers.
The farmers have raised a hybrid dwarf variety, ‘Red lady,’ which starts fruiting after a year. According to Horticulture Department officials, efforts have been taken to introduce three hectares under the crop under National Agriculture Development Program. The crop is raised mainly in and around Annamangalam and farmers from Veppur and Perambalur have come forward to raise the crop.
No easy job
S. Vimal Joe, one of the farmers of Annamangalam, said it was not a easy job to cultivate papaya.
Apart from a huge investment of Rs. 2 lakh for raising 6,000 saplings on six acres about a year ago, he had to incur heavy expenditure towards laborers who plucked the fruits every day. Of the 6,000 saplings, only 4,000 germinated as the crop was prone to diseases and pest attack.
Traders preferred only quality fruits, he said. All through the first year, the crop needed proper care and maintenance.
He could harvest 500 to 700 kg of fruits every day which was sold for about Rs.2,000 to Rs. 2,300.
His daily profit was about Rs.500. But scarcity of agricultural labor for harvesting posed a problem. “As its milk affected the skin of laborers, not many come forward to pluck the fruits,” he said.