The farmers can more than double their income by switching to cultivation of G9 tissue culture banana and this has been amply proved at the field level at Pidagam and Valavanur villages, according to N. Panneerselvam, Deputy Director of Horticulture, Villupuram.
Mr. Panneerselvam told TheHindu that in Villupuram district certain varieties of bananas, including monthan, poovan and karpuravalli were being raised on 919 hectares, and, monthan alone accounted for 60 per cent of the area under the traditional banana cultivation.
The monthan yield per hectare was 62.5 tonnes from which the farmer could make a net profit of Rs. 43,500 per hectare. The present yield level was hardly sufficient to meet the local demand and the export commitments.
Hence, there had arisen the need for increasing the productivity and the G9 tissue culture banana had fitted the bill as it could yield 100 tonnes of the fruit per hectare. The cultivation of the tissue culture variety was being promoted under the National Horticultural Mission Scheme. Mr. Panneerselvam said that L. Manoharan and A. Raja of Pidagam and Rajasekar of Valavanur who took to the tissue culture banana had reported quite a substantial yield level.
For instance, Mr. Manohan had obtained 800 bunches of tissue culture banana in less than one acre (0.80 acre to be exact) from which he earned a total income of Rs. 1.60 lakh (at the rate of Rs. 200 per bunch) and after making provision for expenses he had netted a profit of Rs. 80,000.
The other two progressive farmers too had obtained the same level of yield. From this outcome it could be surmised that a farmer growing the tissue culture banana on 2.5 acres would earn a total income of Rs. 5 lakh and after deducting the expenses would earn a profit of Rs. 2.5 lakh. The Deputy Director also added that to ward off the wind menace and to guard the crop against the Erwinia rot, the farmers could grow agathi or udayam banana as intercrop in two rows around the periphery of the banana field.
He noted that the farmers adopting hi-tech processes such as high-density planting, drip irrigation and fertigation practices could even achieve better the results and get lucrative income. Further information could be obtained from block-level officials of the Horticulture Department, Mr. Panneersevam added.