Turmeric acreage in Karnataka’s Chamarajanagar, a major producing region in the State, is seen rising by about 10-15 per cent this year on higher prices. With the start of the pre-monsoon rains from early May, the turmeric planting season has begun and demand for high yielding varieties is on the rise, stakeholders said.

Over the past few years, Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) Chamrajanagar had introduced high-yielding varieties such as IISR Pratibha and Alleppey Supreme in the region, which are seen gaining ground. These varieties, developed by the Indian Institute of Spices Research (IISR), Calicut, have higher curcumin content and are also resistant to diseases such as rhizome rot, said Yogesh G.S, Senior Scientist and Head of KVK, Chamarajanagar.

“Turmeric acreages, which stood at 8,700 hectares last year, may cross 10,000 hectares on good prices realised by the farmers,” Yogesh said. Turmeric competes with other crops such as banana, shallots, cotton, rice and vegetables, among other crops in the district.

Suresh of Souhardha Turmeric FPO in Chamrajnagar said the acreages will be up by about 10 per cent this year as farmers have realised good prices. “There is a good demand for quality turmeric bulbs (planting material), but the supply is less,” he added.

Farmers have realised prices of ₹15,000-16,000 per quintal last season, compared to the previous year’s ₹5,000-6,000 per quintal, resulting in higher demand for the turmeric bulbs this year. Souhardha Turmeric FPO has about 1,000 members. Most of them grow the spice crop, along with other crops such as vegetables, cotton, banana and rice, among others.

“There is a good demand for IISR’s Pratibha variety of turmeric seeds, which yield better compared to local varieties and are seen resistant to root rot disease,” Suresh adds. Yields are higher in IISR’s Pratibha by about 5 quintals per acre compared to the other variety local variety.

“Turmeric has a good potential in Chamarajanagar district. KVK Chamarajanagar has played a key role in introducing improved varieties suitable for the local climatic conditions,” said V Venkatasubramanian, Director, ICAR-Agricultural Technology Application Research Institute, Zone 11, Bengaluru.

Considering the potential for quality turmeric in Chamarajanagar, processing industries such as Synthite Industries and Arishina Life Sciences have started sourcing turmeric from farmers in the region. Arishina operates a curcumin extraction unit in the district.

Synthite Industries runs a sustainable turmeric program in the region, providing a package of practices and inputs to farmers in district and purchases the produce at a premium to the market price. Started in 2019 with five farmers in area of 10 acres, Synthite’s sustainable turmeric programme initiative has scaled up over the past few years and will cover some 900 acres this season.

Considering the potential that Chamarajanagar offers, Venkatasubramanian said that entities such as the Turmeric Board should play a pro-active role in organising farmers into collectives, provide them with quality inputs and linkage with the markets and processing industry to harness the potential of the region.