April 24, 2009 3:45:18 am
Hatal,a small village in the Tiyuni area of Uttarakhand,has witnessed a quiet revolution over the last decade. A group of progressive farmers have succeeded in growing high-quality pomegranates in this area which had no history of growing the fruit. Pomegranates are mostly grown in western and southern India due to the favourable climatic conditions. These farmers succeeded in growing hybrid varieties of capsicum,tomatoes and broccoli as well.
Prem Chand Sharma,who started the trend,said he had been inspired by the developments in neighbouring Himachal Pradesh where farmers have successfully experimented with crops. I have seen a change come over there since my childhood. I always wanted to follow their example, says Sharma who now talks of using the internet to find markets for his villages produce and plans to plant at least 1000 pomegranate trees over the next five years.
In our area no one had tried growing pomegranate and it was by chance that we discovered the virtues of this fruit. My father had sprinkled seeds on the land near our house and soon these seedlings blossomed into healthy saplings but despite our best effort they failed to bear fruits. Later in my interaction with officials of the Horticulture Department I learnt that it was a better option to go for plant cuttings. Then on my visit to Kullu in 2005,I procured pomegranate saplings from a farmer named Daljit Singh, he narrates.
Today all kinds of pomegranate varieties,ranging from Kandhari and Bhagwa to Sinduri and Mridula,dot his 30 bigha farm with as many as 400 of his 700 pomegranate trees bearing fruits.
Not content with the success of his experiment,he utilised the empty space around the trees for growing pumpkin,gourd,cucumber and other seasonal vegetables. His
example was soon followed by other farmers in his village.
They then diversified into cultivating off-season vegetables of western origin namely parsley,basil,cherry tomatoes and red cabbages. We have been able to offload the common variety of tomatoes in the Delhi market and most of us earn between Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000 in one season, he told The Indian Express.
However,the absence of transportation and marketing facilities has played spoiler. We would like to diversify further provided we get support for quick transportation of our perishable products, said Sharma.
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