Now, shade net technology to guard betel leaf cultivation from storms
Kolkata: The state Food Processing Industries & Horticulture (FPI&H) department has tested success in cultivating betel leaf through an innovative technique of protected cultivation in Howrah.
The department has provided the technology to some 40 odd farmers who have erected mild steel structure and had put shade net (a kind of synthetic material) on its top which has been instrumental in keeping away birds, insects and most importantly the crop has been able to withstand violent storms.
Betel leaf popularly known as paan is cultivated mainly in South 24-Parganas and East Midnapore through a traditional method in which a garden called a barouj is prepared and is fenced with bamboo sticks and coconut leaves. The barouj is susceptible to damage in norwester or similar type of storm and almost every year the farmers complain of huge losses in cultivation as the crop is an expensive one.
"We have encouraged some 40 odd farmers of Uluberia and Bagnan in Howrah in setting up mild steel structures and putting a shade net on its top for paan cultivation. It has been witnessed that the structure has emerged as completely weather proof prompting us in promoting this technology in other parts of the state where paan is cultivated," said a senior official of state Horticulture department.
About 66 per cent of paan production in the country is from Bengal where it is cultivated on about 20,000 hectares land. Over 1 lakh families are estimated to be involved in paan cultivation in East Midnapore and 40,000 families in South 24-Parganas. It is practiced in other parts of the state too but in certain pockets.
The farmers who cultivate paan through this shade net technology has to bear 50 percent cost of setting up the structure . The rest 50 percent is provided as subsidy by the state and centre under MIDH
(Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture )
Paan exists as a forest product in the national list but in the state of Bengal it is cultivated as a horticulture product.
"We are promoting this steel structure with shade net for paan cultivation
in the state's new initiative regarding modern agriculture practices," said Subrata
Gupta, Principal Secretary of FPI& H department.
The Horticulture department is ready to provide assistance to farmers in the state who want to adopt the technology.