Thursday, April 16, 2015

Amoor Village is SEVAI target area this village is brimming with betel cultivation.

Betel cultivation in Amoor by SHGs

Amoor Village is SEVAI target area this village is brimming with betel cultivation. The trade of betel leaves has been known to Amoor around 50 years. Farmers earn sizable amount of money out of betel cultivation. “I owned 1.5 acres for betel farming. I used to sell leaves almost every week and it is the golden era of betel leaves. Amoor betel is very famous for its taste and longevity,” said Alamelu a member of SEVAI Women Self Help groups as promoted by SEVAI-Elle Foundation and OFI. Alamelu further said, “Betel is a perennial crop and hence the farmers find it suitable. Betel vine requires a tropical climate with high atmospheric humidity. It can be cultivated in the uplands as well as in wetlands. In Amoor, it is mainly cultivated in Agathi gardens as an intercrop. The crop grows best on well-drained fertile soils. Proper shade and irrigation are essential for successful cultivation of this crop. The crop tolerates a minimum temperature of 18ºC and a maximum of 40ºC. Extremely low atmospheric temperature leads to leaf fall. Hot dry winds are harmful. There are two important planting seasons; May-June and August-September. Areas with good shade and irrigation facilities are preferred for this crop. The land is dug well and laid out into furrows. Such furrows are opened at a distance of 1 m apart. Well farmyard manure is thoroughly incorporated with the topsoil of the furrows. High dose of organic manure  is applied to maintain good soil structure, which is essential for the proper development of the root system. Top portions of mature vines (2-3 years old) are used for planting. Healthy cuttings of about 1 m length with three nodes are used as planting material. For planting one hectare, 20000-25000 cuttings are required. Furrows are irrigated prior to planting. Cuttings are planted in holes 20 cm apart in furrows. While planting, one node shall be buried in the soil and the second node should be at the ground level. The soil around the planted cutting must be pressed firmly to encourage quick germination. It is necessary to provide shade to the planted cuttings. To
Betel leaves ready for sales
prevent excess moisture in the soil, splashing water on the vines by hand is preferable in the early stages. In the absence of rain, light irrigation, four times daily, is given till establishment. Cuttings establish in three weeks time and the first leaf emerges in about a month. The cuttings sprout and creep in about a month. At this time, they must be trailed on the standards. Trailing is done further by tying the vines, at intervals of 15-20 cm along the standards loosely with the help of banana fibre. Trailing is done every 15-20 days depending on the growth of vines. In about 3-6 months time, vines grow to a height 150-180 cm. At this stage branching is noticed in the vines. Leaves are removed along with the petiole with the right thumb. Once harvesting is commenced, it is continued almost every day or week. The interval of harvesting varies from 15 days to about a month till the next lowering of vines. After each harvest, manuring has to be done.
Betel leaves are one of the oldest cash crops cultivated in India. Very offering to God has an auspicious eleven or twenty one betel leaves, every marriage ceremony has betel leaves and exchange of betel leaves is considered as a fortunate beginning”. -Govin

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