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A date with prosperity

Surrounded by industries, this farm stands out in Vanjipalayam area, less than 10 km from the knitwear town of Tiruppur. Bunches of golden yellow fruits hang from the trees in the months of June, July and August. K.G. Murugavel grows the Barhee variety of dates on his 2.5-acre plot. Switching over from turmeric, vegetables and cotton about a decade ago, Mr. Murugavel of K.G. Fresh Dates today exports fresh dates and supplies Barhee tissue culture plants to interested farmers across the country. “I wanted to go for a change from the normal crops. Based on information that I gathered in the media, I decided to import tissue culture of the Barhee variety in 2009 and planted 180 plants. Each tree now yields 150 kg to 200 kg of dates a year,” he says. Mr. Murugavel, who sells in the wholesale and retail markets in India and also exports, says the trees flower in February-March and the fruits can be harvested in four months from then. Door-to-door marketing “In the first few years, my wife and I used to take the fresh dates to Tiruppur and do door-to-door marketing,” he says. These fresh dates have several health benefits and with increasing awareness, the demand has also grown. “We sell 40 tonnes to 50 tonnes a year now.” Awareness among farmers has picked up in the last five years. If climatic conditions are suitable, farmers can raise them on 1.5 to 2 acres. Investment quite high The Barhee variety grows only in specific weather conditions and the investments are quite high. The yield goes up gradually and the growers will start seeing profit in five years. The average life of a tree is about 35 years. “About 40 farmers in Tamil Nadu grow the Barhee dates now. We supply the tissue culture plants and guide them on how to grow. We encourage the farmers to market directly,” he says. Since it is a perishable commodity and can be harvested only during three months a year, its availability in the market is restricted to that period. Dates consumption is high in the country and a substantial quantity is imported, he adds.

Source :  https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-business/a-date-with-prosperity/article26170581.ece

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