Carrot Farming in Ooty
“Rain or Shine, Carrots are Fine!”
This is the universal view shared by all the farming community based out of the Nilgiri range. Located at around 267kms from Bangalore, Ooty is a popular tourist spot of the Nilgiris. Although a part of South India, Ooty has a sub-tropical highland climate which keeps the temperature of the place mild and pleasant year round. This cool weather condition is seen to be perfect for carrot farming, which require a temperature band of 15o C to 20o C to get its perfect colour.
Carrot farming is steadily increasing its base in the Ooty region with more and more farmers and the agriculturalists using their farm lands for this crop cultivation. These areas of farming traditionally use the technique of crop rotation in various seasons. As per 2013 study made by the horticulture department of Tamil Nadu, it is seen that more and more farmers are keeping their land for carrot cultivation for the entire cultivation season. This is due to the higher market demand and higher profit. Around 2000 hectares of cultivable land is at present under carrot cultivation per year in Ooty.
Seeds for carrot farming are generally of two types, normal and hybrid. Both of these seeds are being made available by the state horticulture department at a 50% subsidy to boost this type of farming.
Carrot can be grown throughout the year with proper irrigation at 1500 m above sea level. Ooty being at a height of 2240m on the Western ghats is perfect for carrot plantations. The hill station generates almost about 500 tonnes per day of carrot during its peak cultivation season and production drops to 200 tonnes per day on the other times. During July – February, Ooty gets its highest carrot production.
For tourists, crunching a juicy orange carrot is a must. People can find vendors selling carrots in plastic packets at a mere cost of Rs 20/- to Rs40/- per kilogram. Carrot market of Ooty and the surrounding region are popular among exporters. Farmers can sell their produce to the middlemen who in turn sell them to the big buyers. This in turn cuts the profit margin of these farmers. To stop this malpractice, Lawrencedale Estates & Farms (LEAF) was formed in 2009 with an assurance to provide best practices for all the farmers.
LEAF had convinced the traditional farmers with their transparent business models and community farming. They have helped local farmers with their standard farming techniques, modern mechanisms, good manures and good seed supply, which in turn has increased the carrot yield and has also taken care of the final product sale through proper channel. They have capitalised the brand Ooty Carrots by taking the fresh vegetables to different parts of India through proper transportation. Their fair price practice has helped the local Ooty farmers along with the consumers.
Tourists on a visit to Ooty can witness many lush green carrot fields stretched over miles and miles of the hilly tract of Nilgiris.