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Arka Bharath: A High Yielding Teasel Gourd Variety, Bound to Increase Farmers' Income

Teasel gourd cultivation, propelled by the introduction of high-yielding varieties and advancements in propagation techniques, holds immense promise in increasing farmers' income.

Saurabh Shukla
Arka Bharath: A High Yielding Teasel Gourd Variety, Path to Increased Farmers Income (Photo Source: IIHR)
Arka Bharath: A High Yielding Teasel Gourd Variety, Path to Increased Farmers Income (Photo Source: IIHR)

Teasel gourd, also known as Kantola or Momordica subangulata Blume, is a seasonal vegetable resembling bitter gourd. Belonging to the pumpkin family, it thrives in the mountainous regions of India and is known by various names such as Kankoda, Papora, or Khekhsa. Although historically limited to certain regions, Kantola cultivation has gained momentum worldwide, with notable cultivation in West Bengal, Odisha, and North Eastern states of India.

Historically, teasel gourd cultivation was limited, with most farmers selling surplus produce sporadically in local markets. However, with the government's call to double farmers' income by 2022, there's a renewed emphasis on diversifying crops and enhancing productivity. Teasel gourd, with its high market demand and favorable pricing reaching up to Rs 200 per kg, presents a lucrative opportunity for farmers.

Recognizing the untapped potential of teasel gourd, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) introduced the improved variety 'Arka Bharath.' This variety, known for its high yield potential, addresses the previous constraints faced by farmers in cultivation. Its cultivation cycle spans from January to February, offering a harvest period of up to six months, from April to August.

The teasel gourd's commercial cultivation supersedes that of the spine gourd due to its ease of multiplication and adaptability to commercial farming. While spine gourd cultivation is limited mainly to homesteads and suffers from low yields, teasel gourd emerges as a viable alternative with its commercial viability and extended harvest period.

The introduction of Arka Bharath by ICAR has catalyzed teasel gourd cultivation across various regions. Central Horticultural Experiment Station (CHES), Chettalli, played a crucial role in popularizing commercial cultivation in districts like Kodagu, Uttara Kannada, and Dakshina Kannada in Karnataka. Additionally, CHES supplied Arka Bharath plants to over 250 farmers across multiple states, including Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra, thereby facilitating widespread adoption of teasel gourd cultivation.

During interaction meets held at ICAR-IIHR-CHES, farmers expressed gratitude for the technical support and guidance provided, emphasizing the transformative impact on their livelihoods. The availability of Arka Bharath plants and the dissemination of best practices have empowered farmers to harness the economic potential of teasel gourd cultivation.

Through collaborative efforts between research institutions, government initiatives, and farmer engagement programs, teasel gourd emerges as an opportunity for sustainable agriculture and rural prosperity.

With continued support and innovation, teasel gourd cultivation can contribute significantly to the realization of the vision of doubling farmers' income and fostering agricultural resilience in India.

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