1. Success Story

This Maharashtra Farmer is Earning Rs 6 Lakh per Acre Using This New Mango Farming Technique

Every month, he welcomes around 50 farmers to his farm. Despite the pandemic, he had 2,000 visitors last year. The number of visitors peaks in the months of May and June, when the trees are heavy with fruit.

Shruti Kandwal
Gavane grows the Sonaka and SS varieties of grapes
Gavane grows the Sonaka and SS varieties of grapes

"I'm blessed to be a farmer," says Parmanand Gavane of Miraj, Maharashtra, Maharashtra, a state with the highest incidences of suicides by farmers.

His village, Belanki, is 25 km from Miraj town and produces 15 tons of mangoes on just two acres of land. The Kesar mango type is planted in 900 plants per acre.

Gavane, 62, uses the UHDP (ultra-high-density planting) method. UHDP, which is used for mango plantations all over the world, when combined with other sustainable agricultural techniques, may produce up to 200 % more crops than traditional methods. It also keeps the fruit's shape and color consistent while preserving its flavor and freshness.

Last year, buyers from Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Bengaluru, and Raipur purchased fruits from Gavane's farm that measured between 250 and 400 grams. From 3 tonnes per acre during his first harvest in 2015 to 7.5 tonnes per acre in 2020, Gavane believes he can get 10 tonnes per acre with good orchard management.

Gavane, a former grape grower, noticed a farmer in Lingnur village utilizing the high-density plantation method, though he wasn't keen to share what he'd learned. "I realized I was on my own at that point," Gavane adds, "and resolved that if I ever became successful, I would keep my orchard open to anyone and share my experiences as well."

Every month, he welcomes around 50 farmers to his farm. Despite the pandemic, he had 2,000 visitors last year. The number of visitors peaks in May and June, when the trees are heavy with fruit.

Not so ‘Aam’

UHDP has been used for years in Israel and South Africa and is now being followed by a few enterprising farmers in the United States. This strategy, according to Gavane, increases per-acre output while lowering irrigation water use by up to 50%.

The mango trees are neatly placed in rows, with drip pipes snaking around them. "I use a mix of 70% organic and 30% chemical fertilizers, as well as a fungicide that restricts growth but increases flowering," he adds, adding, "Fertiliser consumption is quite high with this method."

Gavane spends close to Rs 100,000 per acre which includes fertilizer and labor costs and ends up with a profit of Rs 600,000 per acre.

He planted trees on two more acres last year. Vishal Paramne (32), a former assistant professor at Kolhapur's Dr. J J Magdum College of Engineering who now works as a design engineer at Tessolve Semiconductor Private Limited, is one of Gavane's regular visits. Paramne, who owns four acres of land in Vellanki village and is inspired by the UHDP system, plans to start a mango orchard soon. "Gavane sir's mango orchard is a rarity in our neighborhood, with four acres of fruit-bearing mango trees," he explains. “The majority of the farmers here solely cultivate grapes."

This system necessitates the implementation of key technologies such as formative pruning in the early years, proper canopy management annually to encourage vegetative growth immediately after harvest, and the closure of vegetative growth in September to promote fruit bud initiation and differentiation.

Adopting a drip irrigation system to replenish moisture loss and provide nutrients in the required quantity at appropriate doses through fertigation is essential to achieving a better yield with higher quality fruits. Several farmers in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka, according to Gavane, are following his approach, and UHDP already covers 200 acres.

Aside from Kesar, he has several Rumania varieties from North Andhra Pradesh that yield fruit twice a year. The purple beauty, which a friend presented, is a table variant used for pickling and home consumption. Benishan and Tommy Atkins (from Florida, USA) are table varieties used for pickling and home consumption.

Super UHDP

Gavane continues to grow the Sonaka and SS varieties of grapes on nine acres and manages a plant nursery with the help of his sons Shivanand, a Civil Engineer who quit his work in a Kirloskarwadi-based enterprise, and Madhavanand, an Arts graduate. "Every year, I sell roughly 40,000 Kesar saplings," he says.

The adoption of UHDP, according to experts, can revolutionize mango production. Except for clayey or highly sandy or rocky calcareous, alkaline, or waterlogged soils, it may be cultivated in a wide range of soils. Gavane has planted at a 12 ft by 4 ft spacing, allowing for 900 plants per acre rather than the 674 plants per acre.

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