In order to promote palm cultivation, the Agriculture Department would distribute two lakh palm seedlings to farmers, said collector V. Vishnu.
Chairing the monthly farmers’ meeting at the Collectorate, he said there were huge business opportunities in the palm sector. There was a good market for palm products and by-products in Tamil Nadu and other states. The government would be happy to guide interested farmers in these ventures. Farmers could contact deputy directors in their blocks for more details, he said.
When farmers raised concerns about fertilizer shortages and high prices, officials said they had carried out checks at 55 outlets and nine licenses had been canceled. P. Perumpadayar, a farmer, said the price of urea and potash has increased dramatically. In six months, the price of potash had fallen from 1,040 to 1,690. In addition, many merchants forced farmers to buy products they had never needed.
The collector assured that he would investigate the matter and ensure that fertilizers were available at prices set by the government. Another farmer said that when the government wanted to increase the area under cultivation, it had to ensure easy availability of fertilizers.
Farmers were encouraged to switch to alternative crops such as teak and gooseberry to supplement their income. The government had 2.19 lakh of saplings to distribute. After testing the soil and other parameters, farmers can choose the crop that suits their land, officials said.
Responding to a flurry of questions about poor seed quality, officials said there were 268 licensed seed dealers / depots in the district. In that month alone, they collected 1,344 seed samples. Out of 1,305 seeds tested, 42 were found to be substandard and 78.58 tons of these seeds worth 51.98 lakh were seized.
The district has benefited greatly from the rains this year, the joint director of agriculture said at the meeting and gave a detailed account of the rains from month to month. He said that against the annual average of 814.80mm, 1,471.02mm of rain was received – an excess of 80.5%.
The district average for January is 50.2 mm, while it was 349.91 mm in 2021 and 22.47 mm in 2020. Similarly, in May, against the average of 38 mm, Tirunelveli received 122.08 mm (2021) and 37.05 mm (2020). For November, the average was 208.20mm, but the district received 463.04mm (2021) and 259.47mm (2020). The majority of the reservoirs had water to last another three months and more, he said.