Samai cultivation attracts fresh interest in hill villages - The New Indian Express

Samai cultivation attracts fresh interest in hill villages

Published: 18th March 2013 08:19 AM

Last Updated: 18th March 2013 08:19 AM

Little millets, or ‘Samai’, had got a new lease of life through the Initiative for Nutritional Security through Intensive Millets Promotion (INSIMP), under the aegis of the National Agriculture Development Programme (NADP). The initiative has revived the interest among farmers in two hills blocks of Jolarpet and Alangayam that covers Yelagiri and Javadhu hills in the district.

The promotion of these crops as ‘nutri-cereals’ by INSIMP has brought to the fore these grains that had been displaced by other cereals such as rice and wheat. The scheme aims at demonstrating the improved production and post-harvest technologies to the farmers in an integrated manner with visible impact, to catalyse the increased production of millets in the region. The scheme would also help farmers get exposure to new technologies and value addition techniques to generate demand for millet-based food products. Vellore, Tiruvannamalai, Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts have been selected to promote samai cultivation in the region under the INSIMP scheme.

While farmers in Yelagiri hills have been traditionally raising this crop in a small way, the produce is consumed by them. The scheme would encourage more farmers to take up cultivation and increase the area to 400 hectares, which is the target for this year. The present yield of 500-600 kg per acre of cultivation would also be increased to 700 kg. Most of the  hill farmers are presently banking on horticulture crops and sericulture, while some are into paddy. Samai is mostly cultivated during June-October season and INSIMP is aiming at preparing the farmers, well ahead of the season.

Assistant Director of Agriculture, attached to the Jolarpet block, Dr Gowthamkumar De said a group of 200 farmers in the Yelagiri hills, who have been traditionally cultivating samai have been selected to undergo training under the scheme. Around 50 of them underwent a one-day training at Jolarpet recently when experts from the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) at Vrinjipuram and the Sugarcane Research Station attached to the Tamilnadu Agriculture University(TNAU) at Melalathur, interacted with them. They were trained on plant protection measures, organic farming, vermin-composting, processing techniques of samai and increasing yield. Input kits containing bio-fertilizers, weedicides, pesticides and seed treatment micro-nutrients worth `2,000 were also distributed free of cost.

The farmers were subsequently taken on a tour to TNAU in Coimbatore, to expose them to food processing, post-harvesting technologies and marketing techniques, De added. A self-help group comprising 15 farmers from the hill villages has been formed to carry forward the scheme. This group will soon receive a free power tiller (`1.5 lakh) under the scheme.

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