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Banana farmers cash in on tissue culture

S. Prasad

Profit per acre is Rs. 1 lakh



Money matters: A tissue culture banana plantation at Agasapalli in Krishnagiri district. Photo: N. Bhaskaran

HOSUR: Tissue culture has benefited banana farmers here doubly - high yield in a short span of time.

While the regular variety takes three months for a harvest, the tissue culture variety can be harvested in a month's time. The average yield is 35 tonnes per acre per year in the tissue culture variety whereas it is 20 tonnes per acre per year in the normal variety.

Say Dr. N. Bharathi, Director, Growmore Biotech Ltd.: "The regions of Denkanikottai, Hosur and Thally are the major tissue culture cultivation areas in the district. A salubrious climate, efficient labour and proximity to four tissue culture units in Hosur alone have made farmers in the district opt for tissue culture."

Increased yield

It has ensured an increase in plant yield by two to three times in a short period of one year when compared to five years for the conventional variety. While 10 plants can be propagated in the conventional banana variety in one year the same crop through tissue culture ensures one lakh plants in one year.

About 160 farmers in Hosur alone have opted for tissue culture banana plantations ranging from one acre to two acres. Of the 3,000 acres under cultivation, 30 per cent of the crop is through tissue culture.

However, the average cost of cultivation for a farmer who has opted for tissue culture plants is Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 60,000 per acre when compared to Rs. 20,000 to 25,000 per acre under normal cultivation. The high cost is mainly because of using quality fertilizers and drip and sprinkler irrigation. Mr. Bharathi says the total returns is Rs. 1.75 lakhs to Rs. 2 lakhs in the tissue culture variety compared to Rs. 75,000 to Rs. 1 lakh per acre in the normal variety.

The profit, after taking into account all cost of cultivation, is Rs. 1 lakh per acre. On an average a total of three lakh tissue culture banana plants are sold per month to Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and other districts in Tamil Nadu from here. The demand for tissue culture plants has now spread throughout the country, he says.

Says Venkatasamy, a farmer: "Tissue culture banana is far better than the regular variety as it is free from diseases, has a uniform growth and can be harvested in one month. It also has a high yield with an average of 25 to 45 tonnes per acre."

Mr. Venkatasamy says he is going to plant another five acres of tissue culture banana shortly.

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