TIRUPPUR: Nature's bounty is cited as reason for the plight of shallot farmers who are reeling because of poor market returns. The supply glut has brought down procurement price of shallots to around Rs 10-12 a kilogram in the district, and traditional farmers blamed improved variety of seeds for the bumper yield.
According to horticulture department, shallots were cultivated in 1,200 acres in Palladam, and 1,400 acres in Pongalur in the past three months, and farmers used CO5, an improved variety of seeds developed by TNAU. According to sources, traditional shallot variety offers yield of 5-6 tonnes per acre, whereas the CO5 yields more than 8-9 tonnes.
Cost and quantity of seeds are major factors for farmers choosing the CO5 variety. Farmers have to use at least 400 kilograms of traditional seeds to cultivate in one acre, but just 1-1.5 kg is enough to sow an acre with of CO5. A packet of CO5 seeds (1-1.5 kilogram) costs Rs 2000 whereas tradional seeds cost Rs 40 per kilo.
Sundaramoorthy (45) a traditional farmer in Kalinathapalayam said, "Apart from the price, the yield is around 8-9 tonnes per acre for the CO5 variety. Farmers use the improved variety hoping for huge profits. Several hundred acres have been covered under CO5 cultivation just a few months in, Kundadam, Palladam, Koduvai, Pongalur. I sowed traditional seeds in 2 acres and got yield of 6 tonnes. But, farmers using C05 had a bumper yield. The huge supply has brought the procurement price."
K Senthil Kumar of Muthiah thottam in Allalapuram, who sowed traditional seeds, said, "People cannot identify tradional shallots and tCO5 shallots, CO5 shallots are bigger and brighter, traditional ones are smaller and stronger. I own 4.5 acres. I cultivated turmeric for several years, but the yield was less and crop period was 200 days. So I shifted to shallots and cultivated in 4.5 acres. I spent around Rs one lakh on traditional seeds per acre. I am safe, as the traditional variety can be stored in 'Pattarai' for at least two months."
K Sivakumar , propaganda secretary of Tamil Nadu Farmers Protection Association said, 'Farmers who used (CO5 are suffering the worst, due to abundant harvest.
An official from Tamil Nadu Agriculture University (TNAU) said, "CO5 was among the best shallot seeds selected in Cuddalore in 2004. After improved techniques, it was released in western Tamil Nadu six years ago. Though another variety, CO6, was selected in Puttraraisal in Palladam but farmers preferred C05. Our market anlysis showed that the best farm gate price for shallots will range from Rs 32 - Rs 35 per kg. It will be around Rs 40 per kg for the top quality. Good rains over the past few months resulted in a bumper yield and has caused misery to farmers."
"I sowed CO5 this year on 10 acres and harvested around 35 tonnes from 4 acres last week. Due to the price crash, I was forced to sell at Rs 12,000 per tonne. Last year, I sold for Rs 45,000 per tonne. I will be harvesting another 45 tonnes from six acres in 20 days and don't know what to do with it, This is the worst harvest in my life," said R Sivalingam, a farmer in Kundadam.