A part-time farmer who took to date palm cultivation over a decade back due to paucity of agricultural labourers has reasons to feel elated. Now, this produce is yielding him good profit.
Twelve years ago, R. Vishwanathan, the farm owner, had to leave his field barren for a season due to non-availability of farm labourers. “The idea of raising date palms for which not much labour is required struck me then,” he said.
But, the going was not all that smooth. Mr. Vishwanathan, a bank employee in Ariyalur, travelled to Dharmapuri to buy date palm saplings. “I bought 250 sprouts for ₹80 each from a nursery and planted them on the 2.5 acre field. Five years later, when they began to mature, most of them turned out to be male trees. After uprooting the male variety one by one, the number of fruit-bearing trees came down to 80. Nevertheless, I persisted with the cultivation,” says Mr. Vishwanathan.
Many persons had discouraged Mr. Vishwanathan saying he was wasting his precious land with the futile effort. “Many told me that dates would never grow here and that I was wasting my father’s land. Now, they approach me to buy fruits,” he says. Mr. Vishwanathan began selling dates in large quantities since 2017. This year, he has sold nearly 800 kg so far, following the harvest during June-July. “I sell the dates directly at my farm or residence. They are sold anywhere between ₹300 – ₹500 per kg, depending on the customer,” he said.
Altough the palms do not need much maintenance, the harvest season has been difficult, says Mr. Vishwanathan. “Since I have not employed any labourer, my son and I go to pluck the fruit every morning. We go around 4 a.m. and return after a few hours. Thereafter, I go to work while my son and my father sell the fruit,” he says. The palms do not require much maintenance for the rest of the year and are watered for only about 40-45 mins once in every five days.
Mr. Vishwanathan now plans to scale up cultivation of date palm in his farm by planting more saplings. “Imported female saplings are being sold for ₹4,500 – ₹5,000 each. The returns are assured as they bear fruit within three years. We intend to plant them at the spots from where the male trees were uprooted,” said Mr. Vishwanathan.
(source : The Hindu)