The Department of Agriculture has chosen to promote cultivation of minor millets to beat economic backwardness among the farming community in rain-fed Kalligudi block.
The officials have identified 322 farmers and 78 farm hands as beneficiaries under the State Balanced Growth Fund in seven villages of the block.
The State Government has allotted Rs. 23 lakh under the fund.
“Select farmers will be given training on improved farming technology on cultivation of Kuthiraivaali and Varagu on 300 acres in the block. They will also be given a subsidy of Rs. 2,000 each in the form of seeds, ploughing, fertilizers and pesticides,” the Joint Director of Agriculture, A. Jeyasingh Gnanadurai, said.
The training programme has started in batches for the farmers. By July-end the farmers will begin rain-fed cultivation of minor millets. “We hope to double their yield and income through modern cultivation technology,” he added.
A. Athimoolam, a progressive farmer, said that farmers had given up cultivation of the minor millets owing to poor returns in the past. “The yield used to be only around 4 to 5 quintals an acre under the conventional method of cultivation. Traders used to buy the crops for Rs. 15 to 20 a kg,” he said.
Now, the farmers have been told that they could get at least eight quintals of yield in an acre if they adopted new technology and used quality seeds. “Besides, the officials have promised to provide machineries free of cost for post-harvest process of the millets. The grains that fetched us just Rs. 20 a kg will get us up to Rs. 70 a kg if we cultivate Kuthiraivaali rice and varagu rice and provide them in packets,” Mr. Athimoolam said.
Farmers will benefit economically when they sell millets as rice and not as grains. “For this we have formed a cluster of farmers and farm hands. The farm hands will be trained on processing the grains, packing and marketing the rice,” the Assistant Director of Agriculture, G.S.V. Amudan, said.
The cluster will also be given five sets of rain guns for irrigating the crops with minimum water supply. Soil tests will be done at a nominal cost and right mixture and quantity of fertilizer suitable for the soil will be suggested so that farmers incur minimum expenditure on fertilizers, he said.
They will be taken for exposure visits to meet successful farmers in other parts of the State.
The new scheme will help bring back traditional food habits of Tamils and also realise the Chief Minister’s wish of farmers getting more income, the Tirumangalam MLA, M. Muthuramalingam, said.