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12 Dec 2019, Edition - 1612, Thursday

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Coimbatore

Nilgiris farmers eager to grow organic rice; seek govt support

Ooty Anish

These rice varieties do not require much water and do not need fertilisers, and taste better than the costlier grains.

Many vegetables like potato, carrot, cauliflower and capsicum are grown in the Nilgiris district. Besides, Chinese vegetables and other cash crops are also grown here. In some parts nendran variety bananas and other vegetables of the plains are grown. Also in Gudalur area, a native variety of rice called Nelukalanjiyam is being sown. Here, the mountain Chetty community people have been traditionally farming this rice variety. The villages of Thorapalli, Puthurvayal, Kunil, Kammathi, Pandanthorai, Devarsholai and Sri Madurai and Mudumalai have several thousand acres under this rice cultivation.

Here farmers begin planting every June before the onset of the southwest monsoons. Then they transplant it after the heavy rains are over. Even though several varieties of rice have been discovered through scientific research, the Gudalur farmers are only planting native rice varieties of Kandakasaal, Adukkai, Barathi and Vaali. These rice varieties do not require much irrigation, the soil water is enough and do not require fertilisers. So organic and natural cultivation of rice is going on here and these rice varieties are tastier than the higher variety and costlier grains.

Now other farmers are also showing interest in similar rice cultivation. These farmers use the harvest for their home consumption and do not market it. Due to its organic farming, this rice is healthier and builds immunity.

R. Suresh, a Gudalur farmer said, “Mostly native rice varieties are cultivated in this region. We don’t market this rice and it is tasty, flavourful and good for health. Many native varieties have become obsolete. Native rice varieties are free from pesticide and weevils. However, if we sow new age rice varieties we have to spray pesticides and use chemical fertilisers, whereas for native varieties the soil’s wetness is enough. Also the sufficient rains of the northeast monsoons will give a good harvest, so we are very happy. We want to revive the obsolete native varieties also, we believe that they will also give good harvest. So the government should take steps to revive the other varieties of native rice. This will increase organic farming.”

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