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Delta farmers dance to ‘samba’ beat

Plough power:Upbeat over the flow of water in irrigation canals, farmers in Tiruchi district, like this one, are getting busy with various farming activities in their fields.M. Srinath

Samba paddy coverage is expected to exceed the normal area this year, at least in the canal irrigated delta areas of the district, given the copious flow in the Cauvery.

Agriculture department officials expect a good samba season and also the area to go up in the canal-irrigated delta areas of the district this year. “We expect to touch 40,000 hectares (ha) in the delta areas in the district,” said K.Balraj, Joint Director of Agriculture, told The Hindu .

The normal area of samba paddy coverage in delta and non-delta areas is about 60,000 ha. Of this, about 35,000 ha will be in delta areas.

Samba cultivation is expected to pick up after the first week of September in single crop areas. With Public Works department stepping up discharge in canals, the water is expected to reach tail-end areas within the next few days. Transplantation of nurseries could be completed by September-end.

In filter point areas where kuruvai has been raised, the harvest is expected to be completed only by next month-end. Farmers in these areas are expected to raise nurseries towards the end of the month. There could also be an increase in the area of coverage in non-delta areas both in terms of paddy and pulses. The cultivation area shrunk in non-delta areas in recent years owing to poor monsoon.

The Agriculture department will attempt to ensure cent percent coverage under the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) in the district this year, Mr. Balraj disclosed. The SRI system, touted as an effective technique to increase productivity with less water requirement, had already been adopted on about 65% to 70 % of paddy area in the district, he pointed out.

Advisory to farmers

The department has also come out with an advisory to farmers to dissuade them from going in for Andhra Ponni (BPT 5204) variety.

Given the experience over the past few years, when the blast disease adversely affected yield, the department has advised farmers to opt for disease-resistant varieties and avoid cultivation of BPT-5204, which is susceptible to rice blast disease. Even though the department issued similar advisories over the past couple of years, a large number of farmers continue to raise Andhra Ponni, as the variety is in good demand among traders and fetches a better price than others. However, many suffered losses due to drop in yield due to the disease.

The Agriculture department has suggested TKM-13 variety — seeds are available at subsidised rates in all agricultural extension centres in the district — as an alternative. The variety is moderately tolerant to pest attacks and it is of 125-130 days duration, 10 days lesser than BPT 5204. It can give a yield of 2,300 kg an acre, 10 % higher than ‘BPT 5204,’ the advisory said.


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