Tumkur farmers take to tamarind

Tumkur farmers take to tamarind

Come summer, households in the villages of Kora hobli, Tumkur taluk, Dodderi hobli, Madhugiri taluk, Kallambella hobli, Sira taluk and Channarayanadurga hobli, Koratagere taluk are busy harvesting, processing and selling tamarind. Though coconut is popular as a commercial crop in the district, tamarind is the dominant tree in the dry lands of Madhugiri, Koratagere, Sira and Pavagada.

Tamarind is a hardy tree ideally suited for low rainfall conditions. It grows well in low fertile, well drained red soils with a minimum need to watch and ward. The water requirement of this tree is also less. It has the capacity to withstand drought-like conditions. However, plant protection measures are to be taken during the initial stages of the tree’s growth — shading, mulching, staking and protective watering are needed during summer. Once it reaches a height of six-eight feet, it survives on its own.

In the villages of Tumkur district, farmers have planted them in upper catchment areas where the fertility of the soil is low. Other fruit-bearing trees can’t survive such conditions, but tamarind can.

Depending on the land holding and availability of less-fertile land, farmers have hitherto managed to grow four to six plants per family. However, there are cases where some farmers have planted 40 to 60 tamarind plants and in some cases 100 plants as well. For instance, Ganganna of Nandihalli village, Tumkur taluk, has planted 30 trees, out of which 29 have already started bearing fruit. This season, he has sold 20 quintals of tamarind and has retained one quintal for domestic consumption. “This year, tamarind has fetched a good price of Rs 10,000 per quintal,” says Ganganna. Rangaiah of Kurubarahalli village, Madhugiri taluk, has planted ten trees. The plants started to bear fruit from the eighth year of planting. He has already harvested eight-ten kg per tree. “A yield of two-three quintals can be expected from a 30-year-old tree,” adds Rangaiah.

Part-time labour

Tamarind processing provides people an opportunity to work part-time. Typically, harvesting of fruit and transporting fetch workers Rs 300 per day. Women who are employed to process the fruit (removing seeds, rind and fibre from the fruit) are paid Rs 60 per day. All products of the tree are useful. Tamarind seeds are sold at Rs. 12 to 15 per kg. Rind and fibre are also sold. Coconut, the commercial crop of the district, has been afflicted by pest and its yield is decreasing. Farmers are no longer opting for areca cultivation because of water shortage. The groundwater table has been dipping every year. In such a scenario, tamarind is a great option for dryland farmers. Grafted tamarind seedlings are available in local nurseries and with the Forest Department.           

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