Farmers from dry Vedasandur block have turned role models
Braving poor rain and shortage of water, small farmers in Thoppupatti, Thoddanaickanur and nearby villages in Vedasandur block have started a silent revolution in minor millets production.
Thoppupatti and Thoddanaickanur are some of the dry belts of Vedasandur forecasting a bleak future to farmers. Acute drought and monsoon failure for three consecutive years forced farmers to abandon farm activities and shift to other works for survival. At this juncture, minor millets came in handy to a few tireless farmers.
R. Manoharan of Thoppupatt was the first to spearhead minor millet revolution.
He raised fox tail millet on one acre. Yield in the last season was 800 kg that brought him the best farmer award with a cash prize of Rs 10,000. His success quickly snowballed into a revolution in Thoppupatti area. The farmers formed a minor millet cluster under the banner of Vedasandur Block Millet Producers’ Association to raise minor millets in large scale. Now, they have become certified seed producers of CO 7 Thinai (fox tail millet) to the government.
Cluster formation has also brought several benefits. To encourage them, the government has agreed to offer destoner-cum-grading-cum aspirator and de-huller machines worth Rs 2.2 lakh to this cluster free of cost. With this facility, they can tap retail market directly for better margin, says Deputy Director for Agriculture M. Thangasamy.
“We have plans to set up 430 demonstration plots for ‘samai’, ‘varagu’, ‘kudiraivaali’ and ‘thinai’ in the district before March-end to promote minor millets. We expect a yield of 800 kg at this village this season,” he hopes.
Seeds collected from them will be utilised to propagate millet cultivation in Karur, Theni, Tirunelveli, Tirupur and Sivaganga, besides Dindigul districts. The government offers Rs 40 per kg of seed and Rs 10 for packing expenses, says P. Suruliappan, Assistant Director of Agriculture.
Another progressive farmer, K. Ravi, has raised kudiraivaali, varagu and fox tail millet on five acres. Kudiraivaali can be harvested thrice from single plant in 25 days’ gap. More branches will form in single plant, he adds. The total investment is just Rs 5,000 for thinai and return is Rs 32,000 per acre in 90 days, says Association president S. Appavu.