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Bhawan Singh's Kiwis: Vocation that needs Government's Attention

Amit Bhatt
Amit Bhatt
Bhawan Singh with his Kiwi trees

Bhawan Singh resident of Uttarakhand, a kiwi farmer, belonging to a farming family recently released his video on FTB. He was an educationist for 40 years and after retirement has decided to go the traditional way into farming.  

He retired from the post of head master in 2009. After retirement, he thought of the options available to spend his time productively. He wanted to do something that will be economically beneficial to him and the community. He researched on a number of farming and non-farming activities and finally zeroed in on kiwi farming. In 2004-2005 government agencies, under krishi vikas yojana, took some Uttarakhand farmers to Himachal Pradesh to see kiwi farms and learn how kiwis are grown. Bhawan Singh went on this trip and brought back some small kiwi saplings and planted in his garden. After 3-4 years the trees started bearing delicious kiwi fruits. We started collecting information about kiwi fruits and found out how nutrient rich and healthy they are for the body. It prevents and cures a number of diseases. He researched further on kiwis and chose farming it as his retirement vocation. He started planting kiwi saplings in 2008,a year before his retirement, and has been planting more of them every year. He believes if he had planted all these saplings together the farm may not have been a success. 

Packing kiwis into boxes

We have been selling our kiwis at reasonable prices. Sometimes his price of kiwis are more than the market and sometimes less. There is always a difference between the cost at which a farmer grows and the price that the consumer pays. If the consumers are not willing to pay the right price, the producer will suffer losses. To counter this we have formed a farmers organization locally and have created a processing center where we process kiwis and produce a number of kiwi items like - kiwi jam, kiwi jelly, kiwi squash, kiwi chutney, kiwi candy among others. This processing unit has generated employment for local youth and these processed products are in great demand in the market.  

He aims to increase production so as to reach out to more consumers and make more income. The kiwi saplings are planted at a distance of 5-6 meters in a line and the gap between the lines is 4-5 meters. We can plant the saplings 5x5 (5 meter gap between saplings and 5 meter gap between lines) or 6x4 (6 meter gap between saplings and 4 meter gap between lines). Every tree needs space of about 24 square meter to grow. Kiwi farming is possible in our mountainous region as kiwis trees can grow between the heights of 1000-2000 meters above the sea level.   

Processed kiwi food items for sale

Traditionally kiwi trees are grown in Himachal Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh. Kiwi farming from here has passed on to other Himalayan mountainous regions of Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand. Due to its medical values and low production around the world, kiwis are imported by India and hence is a high value selling product. India spends a large amount of its foreign exchange on these products and thus our activities have attracted attention of among others the Indian government.  

These saplings grow into full trees in 3-4 years and bear fruits. It takes 6-7 years for kiwi trees to grow to their maximum size. We have to look after the trees very well in the initial years. On average a kiwi tree gives fruits weighing 40-50 kgs and under good circumstances (good soil, good weather, hard work, good management) the output can weigh up to a quintal per year. Kiwi fruits grow in different shapes and well shaped kiwis fetch higher price. Kiwis are classified according to their weights into Grade A, B and C. Bhawan Singh tries to grow Grade A kiwis. Grade A kiwis sell easily in the market. Producing lower quality fruits can cause problems in finding the market.  

Bhawan Singh said "In one nali you can plant 8 kiwi trees, in an acre 60 trees and 400 trees in a hectare. In order to grow fruits on these trees you have to plant 10-20 percent male plants and the rest are female plants. Only female plants on growth give fruits. For example in a nali there has to be 1 male tree with 7 fruit bearing female trees."    

If we grow 3 quintal fruits per nali and sell the kiwis at Rs 50 per Kg we can make income of Rs. 15,000 per nali. So, from an acre we can earn 3 lacs per year and 7.5 lacs per year from one hectare. If sold at higher prices we can earn much more. In the actual markets kiwis are sold at Rs. 100 to Rs. 150 per Kg. Therefore growing and selling kiwis is a lucrative business. But you must have complete know how of the growing method for kiwis, if you want to succeed and grow good quality kiwis. The government and scientists need to give more attention to kiwi fruits. They need to provide advice, suggestions and direction to kiwi enthusiasts and professional farmers. 

At the moment, Bhawan Singh sells all of his kiwis in the local market. They sell sometimes at Mandis. Recently they sold their kiwis at delhi mandi and haldwani mandi. To succeed in mandi you must have a good product as we have to compete with the imported kiwis. Our customers have found our kiwis to be  of a much superior quality than the imported kiwis. We have repeat customers locally and at the mandis. This has confirmed that our kiwi product has a good future and we will keep trying to improve it. We also need the government to support us. The government is wishing well for the kiwis but the support is not good enough. Growing kiwis is an expensive business and the fruits grow after 2-3 years of planting. It costs 12-13 lacs per hectare to grow these kiwi trees which is very difficult to raise for the average farmers.  

The subsidies offered by Uttarakhand Government to grow kiwi trees are much less than Himachal Pradesh where the government offers grants equivalent to half the price, 7 lacs per hectare, of growing these trees. This has encouraged the Himachal Pradesh farmers who have grown beautiful gardens. We hope that the Uttarakhand government would do the same to encourage kiwi farmers here. He adds that the rural youth does not need to go to urban areas for little paying jobs, instead they can earn much more by farming kiwis in their villages. 

Towards the end of the video, he shows us a box of his kiwis, which he says are Grade A and can match any kiwis in the international market. He said their 25-30% of kiwis are of the same quality that he is displaying. He says that if scientists and government support the farmers they can improve their products. He thanked the government for the training they have given him in Himachal Pradesh, which trained him well enough to grew his own kiwi fruits. If the government provides technical and financial support to us, the farmers, we will be able to do much more and the future of Uttarakhand will be bright. 

Bhawan Singh

Bhawan Singh

Bageshwar, Uttarakhand

Bhawan's Kiwi Farm

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