For Arulprakasam, a progressive farmer from Thooyaneri village near Melur, technology has helped notonly in reaping profits, but also in overcoming challenges posed by climate changes.
Believe it or not…from a small area of 1,000 square metres, which is equivalent to 25 cents of land, the farmer has harvested 14 tonnes of cucumber recently over a period of 110 days. Describing the processas “green house cultivation” or protected cultivation, the farmer says he achieved the distinction aftertaking advice from officials of the Department of Horticulture. The ultraviolet treated poly-sheets coveringthe stretch help in protecting the crop from direct sunlight for long hours.
Farmers are encouraged to raise crops by applying innovative techniques under the National HorticultureMission, says Assistant Director (Horticulture) Muthu Durai.
In a volatile weather pattern, farmers are trained to adapt to modern techniques. Use of hybrid varietiesresults in higher yield. The government assists the farmers by providing technology and attractivesubsidy, among other incentives.
Admitting that drought has hit horticulture crops in pockets like Vadipatti, Alanganallur and Kottampatti,the official, however, describes it as “negligible.” Interestingly, mango is a drought-tolerant crop and inrainfed pockets it has suffered marginally.
A farmer of Vadipatti, Arockiam, says that apart from mango, crops like guava, sapotta, amla and lemonare also grown under greenhouse cultivation in the region. Asked to explain the greenhouse cultivationconcept, he says, “Heat generated by sunlight falling on the crop directly is filtered by the UV sheets.Thus the temperature is reduced by a few degrees. In the process, pest menace is also avoided to alarge extent as the entire area is covered.”
Like Mr.Arulprakasam, another farmer in Karuvelampatti village near Tirupparankundram has raisedcucumber through greenhouse cultivation successfully. The total cost involved is Rs.6.5 lakh and 50 percent of it comes as government subsidy. Problems in cultivation are overcome with effective watermanagement and pest treatment.
Good scope in Madurai:
Mr.Muthu Durai says that there is tremendous scope for expanding horticulture crops in the district fromthe present 2,400 hectares. “Gone are the days when farmers in Hosur and other hilly regions alonecould produce hybrid varieties. In a district like Madurai too, farmers are turning tech-savvy and thesuccess story of Mr.Arulprakasam is sufficient to speak high of our achievement,” he notes.