VELLORE: The Department of Agriculture here has launched a drive to promote maize cultivation to help farmers, hit by water scarcity, get quick returns.
Maize, being a short duration crop of three months, requires less water and other inputs and it could be a viable alternative to other input-intensive crops, said Jayasundar, Joint Director of Agriculture. Maize is grown mostly in Tirupattur, Kandili and Jolarpet on a large-scale as this region traditionally receives less rainfall.
He said the farming activity is focused on short- term crops as irrigation is a problem for most of the farmers. In a bid to sustain their livelihood, most of them look for short-term crops such as millets (maize, ragi, cholam) on a regular basis. Now that Vellore district has had deficient rainfall this year, the farmers are planning to diversify by cultivating maize and groundnut.
Jayasundar said the department had launched a drive to increase the area of cultivation of maize. Around 2.5 tonnes of seeds had been distributed to farmers with 80 per cent subsidy and most of the farmers had started sowing them. “It is possible to harvest around three tonnes per hectare and get good returns, “ he added. He said the department is also planning to promote cultivation of the millet ‘samai’ in the hilly region.
While the farmers in the traditional paddy belts in Arakkonam, Kaveripakkam and Timiri blocks had gone ahead with paddy cultivation, their counterparts have made a strong pitch for groundnut cultivation. “We expect the area of cultivation of groundnut to increase by 10 per cent this season,” he said. Already, farmers have sown groundnuts in about 28,221 hectares this season as compared to the last year’s 25,893 hectares, he added.
The water-intensive crops of paddy and sugarcane have taken a beating. The paddy cultivation, which was done in around 8,000 hectares last year has declined this year to 400 hectares while the sugarcane cultivation declined from 6,700 hectares to 5400 hectares, due to water shortage. But the area of cultivation of millets has increased from 9500 hectares last year to 10,800 hectares this year, he said.
The area of pulses (redgram, blackgram, greengram, cowpea, mochai) have increased this year considerably from 13,000 hectares last year to 14,900 hectares this year while oilseeds (groundnut, sesame, castor, sunflower) cultivation had increased from 26,162 hectares to 28,554 hectares this year, Jayasundar said.