With a view to ensuring sustained income to tribal farmers of Pachamalai the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) will implement a special programme to promote value-addition in agricultural produce, said S. Nagoor Ali Jinnah, Chief General Manager, NABARD, Chennai.
Addressing farmers of Pachamalai at Top Sengattupatti, about 90 km from here on Friday, he said that the value-addition was the need of hour and the innovation would be taken up as part of the Integrated Tribal Development - WADI Project, being implemented by the NABARD at an estimate of ₹6.99 crore.
Preliminary steps like planting of saplings had been completed three years ago and the produce from the trees would be harvested by next year or so. The project would benefit 1,390 families in course of time.
The bank would extend all facilities for value-addition in various agro products. As a first step, a training on bee keeping was imparted recently by the National Bee Board at Top Sengattupatti. It aimed at training tribal women on extracting royal jelly and venom, which fetched good price in the international market. In future, value addition in curry leaves, abundantly available in Pachamalai, would be explored. He said that value-addition in cashew was another thrust area and the success of a similar scheme in Maharashtra would be emulated in Pachamalai.
On the achievement of the six-year project currently on since 2014-15, he said that the NABARD had so far released ₹ 3 crore. “Cashew, mango and silver oak trees had been raised and each beneficiary farmer had raised 174 saplings - 40 cashew, 54 mango and 80 silver oak trees about three years ago. Thus, an estimated 1,87,060 trees - 46,600 cashew, 61,020 mango and 79,440 silver oak - have been raised,” he said. The annual income an acre would be ₹ 1 lakh from 2017-18 onwards (fourth year of planting).
Mr. Jinnah said that inter cropping was another important focus of the WADI project and distributed black gram to be raised as inter crop. He also gave away hand sprayers, agricultural implements and loans worth ₹ 5 lakh to beneficiary farmers.
A section of beneficiaries pleaded for extension of the project period for one more year. The six-year project comes to an end by 2020. Another batch of farmers of Vannadu, in their address, pleaded for extension of the scheme to their villages.
R. Thambusamy, former panchayat president of Vannadu, said that the project particularly the technical expertise offered by the Hand-in-Hand, the implementing agency, had created awareness in the past three years about the importance of scientific approach in cultivation. He said that the project should be extended to Vannadu and Kombai village panchayats.
Later, Mr. Jinnah visited the cashew fields in Puthur village in Thenpuranadu village panchayat and interacted with farmers. N. Jayaseelan, Chief Executive Officer, Hand-in-Hand, WADI programme, and S. Suresh Kumar, District Development Manager, NABARD, accompanied him.