TRICHY: The ever-increasing demand for gingelly oil among the general public, particularly the oil extracted in the traditional way using a wooden mill, has encouraged a number of farmers to take up the cultivation of sesame crop. Agriculture department officials in Trichy also have appealed to the farmers to sow the oilseed saying the “Masi Pattam” is a favourable season for its cultivation and get extra income.
As sesame oil has many health benefits, many people have been using the small seed though they prefer to have the oil extracted through a wooden mill as in the olden days. Out of the total oilseed cultivation on 17,710 acres in Trichy district, sesame accounts for about 10,000 acres with farmers of Lalgudi block alone raising the crop on about 5000 acres, officials said. The crop is also cultivated on thousands of acres at many places in Thanjavur district like Thirukattuppalli, Bhoodalur and Manalmedu.
“This ‘Masi Pattam’ (Tamil month) is a very good season for sowing the oil seed which will be ready for harvest in 75 to 85 days. Since the crop requires minimal irrigation water, farmers should come forward to sow the seed”, the deputy director of agriculture, Trichy, S Rajeswaran said.
He said government was providing subsidy to the farmers for procuring certified sesame oilseed. Agriculture officers were also extending expertise to farmers to get a good yield. Villages such as Anbil, Konnaikudi, Sengaraiyur, Manakkal, Vazhuthiyur and K Pettai in Lalgudi block have been witnessing the oilseed crop in a larger area. Sources said the crop would give a yield of 450 kg to 600 kg per acre with the price ranging from Rs 65 to Rs 75 a kilo during harvest season.
However, it would touch a high of Rs 100 per kg during off-season, said the state spokesperson of Bharatiya Kisan Sangam N Veerasekaran. “The agriculture department should take steps to procure the seed during harvest time from the farmers. Only then will farmers get a reasonable price. Otherwise, they will be forced to sell their produce at a very low price in the open market”, he added.
Meanwhile, the district secretary of Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam, Ayilai Sivasuriyan, said that farmers could not take up any summer crop when there was no water. “Earlier, thousands of farmers from Manikandam, Anthanallur, Mannachanallur and Thiruverumber blocks had also been raising the crop. But water scarcity forced them to stop the cultivation.
Even when the level stood at 28 feet in Mettur reservoir, water was released in Cauvery during summer for cash crops. However, today even when the reservoir’s water level is 67 feet, the government is hesitating to release minimum water”, he said.