A potato farmer switched to muskmelon and minted gold on his 4 acres land to produce 140 tonnes of muskmelon with a 70-day crop cycle. Khetaji Solanki, a 41-year old farmer from Banaskantha district in North Gujarat is the star icon in his district. Sold at the rate of ₹15 a kg at the markets in Kashmir, Rajasthan and Gujarat, the muskmelon earned Solanki over ₹20 lakh inspiring others who had been unable to profit from traditional crops.
Solanki informed proudly that last year, potato prices had dropped to ₹2 a kg and we dumped the crop in the open. I had two options: either to continue crying over inadequate prices or try something new. Solanki tried the second option and the experiment turned his fortune,” He further added that against the cost of ₹1.29 lakh, the return is multiple times.
Only having education upto 7th class, he was having innovative bent of mind. To cultivate muskmelon he further cut down his costs significantly by making use of alternate inputs such as water-soluble fertilizers. He also cut down on pesticides by using organic mixtures of gaumutra (cow urine), soured buttermilk and neem leaves.
For better productivity, Solanki used drip-irrigation and mulching techniques, which reduced water wastage as well as brought down the labour costs. The biggest portion of the cost was seeds, which cost him ₹36,000, while water-soluble fertilizer came to ₹45,000 and mulching and drip together cost about ₹40,000. “Our costs further came down as we received State Government subsidy of ₹22,000 for mulching,” he keeps on adding.
The State authorities lauded Solanki’s achievement. “This is remarkable achievement. But it may not be the same for every muskmelon grower.
Returns may differ, but the truth is there are better prospects in horticulture crops and with this aim, we promote and encourage farmers to take innovative techniques of cultivation and take advantage of the State schemes,” said PM Vaghasiya, Director of Horticulture, Gujarat Government.
Early sowing and early harvest yielded Solanki unexpected results. “We sowed in early February and harvested by April 15. Usually, growers delay the harvest hence, the prices they get is not such attractive.
We got the advantage of being early in the market. Next year, we will try with different, high-paying, variety of muskmelon,” Solanki further added.
Next on his radar is export-quality Tomato for Monsoon Season.
Krishi Jagran/New Delhi