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Nilgiris to focus more on horticulture crops

Our Correspondent

COONOOR, May 30

THE Tamil Nadu Government has decided to shift the focus from tea to the cultivation of fruits and spices in the Nilgiris in view of the crisis faced by the tea growers.

Disclosing this at the 44th Fruit Show at Sim's Park here, the District Collector, Ms Supriya Sahu, said Nilgiris was once called the fruit capital of the country which position it lost due to an over concentration on tea cultivation. "We will soon bring back this old glory to the Nilgiris", she said.

She was replying to the suggestion made by the Nilgiris MP, Mr Master Mathan, to go slow on tea expansion, but promote other crops.

Ms Sahu said focus would be given to the cultivation of fruits as mangusteen (regarded as queen of fruits), durian, persimmon etc, which were more adaptable to the Nilgiris weather rather than common fruits as apples that did not fetch good returns to growers. She said a sizeable portion of the Rs 2.94-crore fund under the HADP last year was spent for horticultural development in the district.

More importantly, a huge horticultural complex was being developed at a cost of Rs 75 lakh at Charing Cross in Ooty "which would be the only one of its kind in the whole of Asia. It would house a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and spices serve as a platform for the exchange of information between the growers and the researchers. It would become functional in three months time", the Collector said.

She said a sum of Rs 3 crore had been allocated for training the tribal women in floriculture in Masinagudi to provide them with income generating avenues. Polygreen houses were also being developed. Under the HADP, a sum of Rs 7.05 lakhs has been allocated to the TNAU for doing research on the new varieties of flowers and mushroom.

The Collector, however, advised the growers to phase out the chemical inputs and gradually shift to organic farming in the next three years.

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