December 17, 2015 3:42:07 am
IN A district where assured irrigation is negligible and farmers are mostly focussed on either maize or paddy, a few farmers like Subran Gond in Lalpara village of Raighar block hold the key to successful multi-crop practice.
On his 1.3 acre land next to the Umerkote-Raighar road, the rich harvest of cauliflower, tomato, brinjal, chickpea, onion and tomato in Gond’s land is in stark contrast to the arid landscapes of the region. Apart from the vegetables, he has a pond where he grows freshwater fish and rears a few ducks as well.
Six years ago, Gond and his two brothers jointly cultivated paddy and maize on the four acres of land they collectively owned. While the paddy was consumed by the 18-member family, they used to make about Rs 35,000 a year from maize. But in a district where rainfall is the only source of irrigation, Gond and his brothers were always worried by failure in rainfall.
In May last year, the young farmer dug a 50ft-50 ft pond, 95 per cent of which was subsidised by the State Watershed Mission. With water from the pond, he grew vegetables like bittergourd, cauliflower, cabbage, brinjal, radish, tomato and pea and made a profit of Rs 74,000 by selling the harvest in Chhatisgarh’s Jagdalpur.
“In Jagdalpur, I sold brinjals from my farm at Rs 50 a kg,” said Gond. He also managed to grow 15 quintals of maize in the land, thanks to the water.
Gond has also ventured into pisciculture in his small pond. He rears ducks, too. “The cabbage leaves from my farm go into the pond which is eaten by the ducks. I get fish from the pond as well as eggs from the duck. This year, I earned Rs 94,000 from my farm and pond,” said Gond.
Across the road, 26-year-old BPL-farmer Balram Gond, too, dug a pond over 1.5 acres of land and started growing tomato, cauliflower, banana and beans apart from maize. “Till last year, we were doing only maize. But the money that we got was hardly sufficient to manage my 13-member family,” said Gond.
With help from the district watershed mission, he dug a 50ft-50 ft pond. Last year, he managed to make a profit of Rs 40,000. “I used to do only maize and earn a profit of Rs 30,000-35,000. Now thanks to the pond, I do maize as well as vegetables,” he said.
“In a district like Nabarangpur, the multi-cropping practices of farmers like Gond would minimise the risk of a crop failure. We are encouraging farmers to diversify from maize and paddy,” said district collector Rashmita Panda.
The biggest ingredient to farm success is, of course, assured irrigation. Under the Centre’s Integrated Watershed Management Programme, the Nabarangpur administration has so far helped dig 1,057 ponds in seven of the 10 blocks in the district since 2009-10. “Each of the ponds can irrigate over two acres during Kharif season and 1 acre during Rabi season,” said Panda.
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