1. Success Story

Drumstick can make you Lakhpati: Attraction for the Benefit of the Farmers

Chander Mohan
Chander Mohan

Drumstick is one of famous vegetable crop in India. It is the only vegetable of which the leaves, pods and flowers are also packed with nutrients for both human and animals. Almost every parts of plant is of food value. Foliage is eaten as green salad and used in vegetable curries. The seeds yield 38-40 percent of a non-drying oil known as Ben oil, used for lubricating watches. The oil is clear, sweet and odorless, never becomes rancid and hence used in the manufacture of perfumes.

It is the only crop which is useful for both the human, animals & machines and also used for the perfumes.

Drumstick Scientifically called as Moringa Oleifera is commonly known as Saijan(Hindi), Shevagan (Marathi), Murungai(Tamil), Muringnga (Malayalam) and Munagakaya (Telugu) in different Indian Languages.

Drumstick is the moist widely cultivated species of the genus Moringa comes from the Moringaceae family. Though the origin of drumstick is India, due to its medicinal uses it has reached other countries also.

Drumstick tree, Moringa is well known for its multipurpose attributes, wide adaptability and ease of establishment.

In view of the benefits of this vegetable, ONGC, a Public Sector Enterprise of the Oil and Natural Gas field under its CSR activities involved an NGO Shroffs Foundation Trust for implementing the project Kalpvruksh.

The project kalpvtuksh is strategic intervention with an objective to improve the health conditions of tribal people of Chhota Udepur by changing their fond habit alongwith providing an additional source of Income and to improve the economic conditions of nearly 850 farmers, which are identified beneficiaries partners.

A majority of these farmers are small and marginal farmers. It has been established thaty consumption of Moringa is very good for improving the absorption of iron in the human body and studies have provided evidence that consumption of Moringa not only is a proven remedy in alleviating anemia, it is also useful for its antibacterial and detoxifier properties.

Project `Kalpvriksh` has been initiated by ONGC, Vadodra to promote cultivation of MORINGA, commonly known as Drumstick in 22 villages, through 850 tribal farmers of Chhota Udepur district near Vadodra, Gujarat.

VillageSquare.in. an NGO in Solapur talked to the successful farmers Considering the problems of vegetable growers, the district’s Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) introduced the drought tolerant and high-yielding variety of drumstick (PKM-2 variety developed by Tamil Nadu Agricultural University) in 2000-01. “As drumstick yields around the year, the crop has been embraced by the farmers of Solapur,” Vikas Bhise, horticulturist, KVK.

“And an estimated 1,500 ha is presently under drumstick cultivation. It is spreading as droughts become a regular feature here.”

Moringa is among the rare horticulture crop which begins fruiting within six months of planting, and continues to do so for a period of eight to nine years.

According to Adinath Chavan, the editor of Agrowon, a popular Marathi farm daily from the Sakal Group, farmers of Solapur have been enterprising in crop selection, considering they inhabit the state’s most dry zone. “They are likely to continue growing moringa as long as it offers good returns,” Chavan told VillageSquare.in.

“Earlier, they had tried horticulture crops like bhor and pomegranate, but abandoned them either due to pest attack or when it became non-profitable.”

Farmer Appa Karmakar’s is another success story of growing moringa. In Angar village, with a sparse vegetative landscape, the sun beating at 40 degrees and the squat houses widely distributed, has become a go-to destination for the arid zone farmers from Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

At a distance of 47 km from Sholapur town, this 545-household village that hosts his three-acre farm, has become a shining example of dry land farming at its best.

Among the early adaptors of moringa, this post-graduate introduced the perennially fruiting plant in 2012, and grows it with an intercrop of chilies, papaya, pomegranate and guava, besides marigold, which has been traditionally used to control pests.

The farm produces 50 tonne of drumsticks every year, which sells for Rs 30 to Rs 80 a kg in the wholesale market, fetching approximately Rs 6 lakh a year.

His climate-smart horticulture improvisations with minimum inputs getting good returns attract farmers, journalists, agricultural graduates and experts to his farm.

“Having heard that I made Rs 7 lakh in the first six months of planting moringa, and make around Rs 15 lakh a year, we get more than 50 visitors a day and an equal number of calls from farmers wanting to know whether they too can replicate this experiment. Once they visit the farm, they are convinced that they too can do it,” Appa, 42, told VillageSquare.in while fielding a query from a Telangana farmer interested in cultivating drumsticks.

After a couple of years, moringa’s yield reduces and the pod color changes, requiring the introduction of newer varieties. In view of this, KVK introduced the Bhagya variety developed by University of Horticultural Sciences, Bagalkot, Karnataka in 2008, while discontinuing the promotion of PKM 1 and PKM 2 varieties. The other varieties widely grown in Solapur include Siddhivinayak, ODC Vasanthi and Rohit 1.

Rohit 1 has been developed by Nashik’s Balasaheb Marale, which has traveled to places like Komomoto in Japan and Arizona in the US. Rohit-1 is under validation by the National Innovation Foundation.

Such stories of Solapur farmers who have seen prosperity by cultivating moringa has become common in the drought-prone district of Maharashtra, and is being emulated by others in dry-zone areas like Buldhana, Sangli, Osmanabad, Latur, Beed, Satara, Amravati and others in the state.

About 91.5 percent  of the total cultivated area in the district is under dry land farming. The annual rainfall, which is just 625 mm compared to 3,255 mm in the Konkan region, determines the pattern of crops, its rotation, and the land’s productivity.

While the eastern zone comprising Barshi, North Solapur, South Solapur, and Akkalkot talukas has assured but scanty rainfall, the central zone comprising Mohol, Mangalwedha, eastern part of Pandharpur and Madha talukas, and the western zone, which comprises the scarcity areas of Karmala, Sangola and Malshiras talukas, and the western parts of Madha and Pandharpur talukas, have uncertain rainfall.

In short, Solapur has the dubious distinction of being identified as one of the 99 drought-prone districts in India. Some of the extreme weather patterns here can be attributed to climate change.

As global warming increase, extended periods of drought, heat waves, and unpredictable rainfall have intensified. The average annual rainfall tremendously varies from year to year, directly impacting agriculture and horticultural activities in the area.

The Ujani dam, built on the Bhima River at a cost of Rs 3,300 crore, and serving around 500 sq km of Solapur district, has helped farmers grow water-intensive crops like sugarcane and other crops  like wheat, millets and cotton. In the drier areas, farmers grow horticulture crops that require little irrigation, such as pomegranate, chilli, papaya, custard apple and moringa.

In the 70s and 80s, farmers here tried their hand with bhor (jujube or Indian plum), but by the 90s, they were slowly shifting to the new hybrid varieties of pomegranate developed by the local agriculture university.

However, prone to pest attacks, the pomegranate-growing area, which was at its peak in 2011 with 45,413 ha, was reduced to only 10,000 ha by 2013.

The 30-year-old farmer, who left school in the ninth standard, and is known as the lakhpati shetkari (rich farmer), is taking his unannounced guests around his farm, explaining how the stick-like fruit called shewga (also known as moringa or drumstick) has brought prosperity to his six-member family. This has been done without much effort, trifling investment and very little irrigation, he explains.

Krishiratan, the two-storied house of the Patil family with a statue of a farmer standing atop the humble structure that can be seen from a distance, is proof what Bala has achieved.

“I began with two acres in 2011, and now have four acres under moringa, with each acre fetching me around Rs 4 lakh,” Bala told VillageSquare.in. 

He is the successful author of a book titled Crorepati Banvel Shewga (Moringa can make you a millionaire), which has sold over 4,000 copies since it was published in 2016.

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