By M. Soundariya Preetha
COIMBATORE: Coimbatore being a hub of textile units and poultry farms, the district administration is looking at steps to increase production of cotton and maize and to encourage industries here to consume this produce.
Both the sectors purchase their raw material - cotton (textiles) and maize (used in poultry feed) - from other States paying a higher price. Promoting cultivation of these crops in the district will benefit industries and farmers here.
While contract farming is a familiar concept for cotton cultivation, it is not common in maize, says an official of the Agricultural Department.
For maize, the department is trying to facilitate an agreement between maize growers and poultry farmers.
The district has 20,000 hectares under maize (2005-2006). The official says the poultry sector in the district is now buying maize mainly from Karnataka and pays at least Rs. 2 more for a kg. A committee of maize farmers and broiler growers is likely to be formed soon in this regard.
In the case of cotton, the district is estimated to have about 6,000 hectares under this crop and nearly 10 per cent of this is under contract farming (2005-2006).
The total area can be increased at least by 50 per cent in the first phase. A core committee with representatives of the industry, cotton trade and district administration has been formed to increase cotton production, mainly through contract farming.
"We have lost a lot of area that was once under cotton cultivation either to other crops or to nothing," says K. Viswanathan, secretary of the South India Cotton Association.
This can be revived and the employment potential in the rural areas will go up. The core committee will draft a plan soon as "something can be done with a coordinated effort."
New areas that could can under cotton will also be explored, he adds.