Despite losses, grape grower to persist with organic farming

A farmer who became popular for his organic paneer grapes variety at Esanai here says intermittent rain in the region have wreaked havoc on his crop. Despite incurring losses, R. Perumal alias Surulirajan is determined to grow fruits and vegetables with organic farming techniques.

While 2019 was a good year for cultivation of grapes, the rain this year have ruined at least two acres of shallots and reduced yield of grapes by at least one-fourth, Mr. Perumal told The Hindu.

He has incurred at least two lakhs worth of losses this year alone, he says.

While his first stint with grape cultivation was in 1999, he took up organic farming only in 2019. “I find that we put all sorts of chemicals in our food, which reflects on our health. We are unable to carry out our day-to-day activities after a certain age. Through healthy organic food that can be changed,” the 47-year-old farmer points out.

A major quantity of the grapes is sold to visitors to the vineyard located on Perambalur-Athur road. “We do not sell to wholesalers as they are selective and will ignore some fruits, causing us to incur losses,” he says.

While in 2019, he harvested nearly three tonnes of grapes, Mr. Perumal expects a yield of only around 700-900 kg this year. The size of the grapes too have significantly reduced.

Contrary to a possible notion that grapes cannot grow in a dry area like Perambalur, Mr. Perumal says it is the least water-hungry of all orchard crops. Despite a financial blow this year, he has begun work on cultivation of grapes in another two cents of his two-acre area. “The pillars and other supporting wires are ready. The shoots will be planted in a couple of months and by this time next year, we should be cultivating another large yield of grapes.”

All of Mr. Perumal’s cultivable land is fertilised with goat dung, homemade compost, husks of peanuts, beetle nuts. “We do not use any chemicals. My family only consumes what is cultivated on our field,” he adds.

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