The government of Tamil Nadu recently launched an integrated Palmyra Development Mission to boost production and utilization of the state tree – Palmyra Palm. Through extensive planting, research, skill training and financial aid, the multi-pronged plan aims to revive palmyra cultivation and aid farmers & communities.
A dedicated 15 crore Palmyra Research Station is being established at Killikulam Agricultural College in Thoothukudi district. Scientists would develop high yielding, dwarf varieties using tissue culture and biotechnology for easy harvesting. Research on inter-cropping with compatible plants, nutrition management, and disease prevention would help enhance productivity in available land.
The facility would also house a laboratory to test quality standards of value-added products like jaggery, palm sugar candy etc. Expert guidance on improving processing methods and ensuring compliance with food safety norms would help producers access markets better.
Under the Mission, 76 lakh palmyra seed nuts would be planted by the Agriculture Department across farmlands, along canals, roadsides and urban greenspaces in Chennai etc. with 3 crore outlay. This would significantly expand raw material availability within 5-7 years for making products.
A 2 crore skill development scheme would be implemented to train rural youth and women’s self-help groups in making artifacts, furniture etc. using Palmyra leaves, wood etc. which have a good market. This would enhance their employment and income.
Farmers would receive attractive subsidies to buy critical harvesting tools, climbing machines etc. which are currently unaffordable for many small cultivators. This would aid in expanding plantation by making it profitable.
Scientific expertise would be leveraged for contemporary applications in food, cosmetics, packaging etc. and developing export potential in global markets. The comprehensive plan will help rediscover the heritage tree’s economic viability.