Rain-fed Ramnad tops in chilli production again
MADURAI: Ramanathapuram, a coastal district in the southern region of the state, tops in cultivation of chilli, a horticultural crop. Since weather conditions are conducive to grow chilli in several parts of Ramanathapuram district, the crop thrives on this arid land, said Ramanathapuram Deputy Director of Horticulture S Nagarajan.
The average chilli cultivation area in the district is15,500 hectares and among these, ‘mundu chilli’ variety, which bagged the ‘Geographical Indication’ tag, is done on 13,500 ha on dry lands, which are widespread since growers rely on rain-fed subsistence for horticulture. The rest is ‘samba chilli’ variety by means of irrigation.
Ramnad holds a consistent record of largest chilli producing district in the state for several years now.
Chillies are the major cash crop in Ramanathapuram. Apart from chillies, a variety of horticulture crops, including fruits on 900 ha, vegetables on 600 ha and palm on 3,000 ha are grown in the district, the Deputy Director told DT Next on Sunday. Nearly, 200 farm ponds are constructed in various blocks across the district over the last five years to benefit chilli growers, he said.
K Gandhirajan, managing director, Ramnad Mundu Chilli Producers Company limited, said chilli, which is commonly known as ‘mirchi’ has become an indispensable commodity in every type of cuisine due to its pungency, spicy taste, colour and flavor. More importantly, ‘mundu chilli’ is known as ‘sambar milagai’, in Chennai. This variety would spice up ‘sambar,’ a very popular lunch dish, which’s considered a delicacy in Tamil Nadu
Among 11 blocks in the district, ‘mundu chilli’ is grown under rain-fed conditions mostly, except in Mandapam. This variety is principally grown in Kamuthi, Paramakudi, Kadaladi and Mudukulathur. While 70 per cent of the cultivation is raised by rain-fed methods, the rest is done by irrigation. Since irrigation water is scarce in the area and moreover it’s expensive, the prevailing conditions suited dryland farming.
“It incurs an expenditure of Rs 7 lakh for establishing a bore well to draw water for irrigation, whereas it requires only a minimal cost on ploughing and labour for sowing on dry land,” he said.
The NABARD also extended its support by setting up several thousands of farm ponds catering to the needs of the chilli growers over the years.
On its wholesale market value, he said a kilo fetched prices ranging from Rs 320 to the maximum of Rs 450 last year. This six-month crop is usually sown in September and now the farmers have started plucking the chilli from fields. “It yields around five hundred kilos on an acre and it effectively doubles the yield per acre for irrigated land,” he said.
J Jaisinh Vaerkar, chilli merchant from Virudhunagar said Chennai is a key market place for ‘mundu chill,’ which are less pungent than ‘samba chill.’
District Development Manager, NABARD K Ashok Kumar said more programmes on buyer-seller meet would further enhance market links to reach the buyers.
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