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City gifts banana plants to tsunami-hit ryots
     Friday, May 6, 2005 - Indian Express

Farmers in Andamans who were hit by tsunami have decided to recover economically by switching over to horticultural crops with the help of a Mysore based bio-tech company.

A woman watering banana plants

They have placed an order for banana plants from the Labland Biotech Put. Ltd at subsidised rates to help fanners in distress. Although they depended on coconut palms and coir industry for their livelihood, they have now decided to grow banana and robusta.

Scientists and staff at the Labland Biotech have already supplied 10,000 banana saplings to suit the season in Andamans. They are gearing up to meet the demand from the both the local farmers and those from Andamans.

The firm which had supplied more than 3 lakh hardened banana plants to Uttar Pradesh had dispatched 10,000 plants to Andamans, deducting freight charges only. While, it is sold for more than Rs 7 for domestic and farmers from other states.

Company Executive Director Geetha Singh said the 10-year research and their field strength had helped them supply plants which give better yield.

The timely supply had encouraged farmers to increase banana cultivation area by 5,000 acres in the past eight years, she added.

The farmers were happy with the plantation material and successful programmes with strong technical inputs. Though the firm bed worked on tissue culture on Grande Naine, Robusta, Yelakki, Nanjangud rasabale and Nendra bale variety they had suggested the farmers in Andamans to grow robusta to suit their conditions.

The robusta variety would also help them to harvest between 40 to 55 kgs as Yelakki had a limited market and harvests less than robusta, they said. The Chamrajnagar farmers harvesting from 35 to 50 kgs fruit would be an inspiration to Andaman farmers.

The firm's Managing Director Sudheer A Shetty said farmers had expertise to grow bananas in Andamans. "We have decided to charge them nominally if they want our field staff and scientists to visit their fields," he added.

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