While the Department of Horticulture gives subsidy for erecting ‘pandal’ for cultivation of horticultural crops such as vegetables, for the first time, a bank has released loan to a farmer for erecting ‘pandal.’
Crops such as bitter gourd, snake gourd, ridge gourd, coccinia (‘kovaikkai’) etc., offer better returns when the ‘pandal’ is made strong using steel wires to withstand heavy rains. Owing to excess rainfall of 1309.79 mm (+ 61 per cent) in the district against the normal annual rainfall of 814.26 mm, the acreage of horticulture crops has increased from 22,400 hectares in 2013-2014 to 28,905 ha this fiscal. The avreage is expected to increase further after the paddy harvest season.
In this backdrop, cultivation of horticultural crops with ‘pandal’ is likely to be lucrative this year.
Under National Agriculture Development Programme, small and marginal farmers receive 50 per cent subsidy to a maximum of Rs. 2 lakh per hectare for erecting ‘pandal’ with a view to increasing the yield. During 2014-15, two hectares of area under ‘pandal’ cultivation was targeted with a financial allocation of Rs. 4 lakh. Six farmers in Alangulam, Keezhappavur, Tenkasi and Pappaakudi blocks evinced interest in availing the subsidy.
Motivated by the Horticulture Department, T. Murugiah, a Dalit farmer from Keezhappattakurichi in Tenkasi block, approached Bank of India’s Tenkasi branch along with K. Diraviam, Assistant Director of Horticulture, Tenkasi, for getting loan for erecting ‘pandal’ on 50 cents.
After Mr. Diraviam assured the bank officials about the success of a similar project in Melaneelithanallur block last year, the bank approved a loan of Rs. 87,500 to the farmer.
Inspecting the field recently, S. Raja Mohamed, Deputy Director of Horticulture, Tirunelveli, asked the farmer to opt for bitter gourd cultivation, citing the success story at Melaneelithanallur.
Within a month of submission of project report, the bank released the loan and the Horticulture Department subsequently released the subsidy of Rs. 40,000. As ‘thaippattam,’ considered to be conducive for vegetable cultivation on ‘pandal,’ is fast approaching, Mr. Murugiah has started work on his field.