By Yogesh Singare & Vishnu Khedkar
Meet Bhaskar Dakle, son of Bhimrao Dakle, native of Dongargaon Kawad village, block Phulambri, Aurangabad. Bhaskar is a small farmer who owns 4.5 acres of agriculture land. Like other farmers, he was cultivating conventional wheat and gram during rabi season. Bhaskar was regularly attending all the village trainings organized by S M Sehgal Foundation on social issues, women-related issues, water conservation, drinking water and agriculture.
In 2019, he was a part of POP (package of practices) demonstration and cultivated green pea on 0.25 ha area. Since this crop was introduced for the first time in this area, all technical inputs were provided by the foundation field team. “I took a risk with a hope of better income. This was a totally new crop for me, and I was unaware of all standard practices like spacing, seed dressing with biofertilizers, spraying for disease and pest management, nutrient management through soil and foliar application, etc. I learned all these during the trainings and one-to-one interactions organized by the foundation staff,” says Bhaskar.
When grain filling started in the pod, Bhaskar started harvesting that year and received 6.25 quintals (1 quintal=100 kg) of fresh green peas from 0.25 ha area. Bhaskar says, “I sold this crop in the local market and earned Rs. 22,500 as net income. In conventional practice, I would have received net income of Rs. 8,000 by selling 5 quintals of wheat produce. That means I netted additional earnings of Rs. 14,500. This changed my perspective, and I have been inclined toward cash crop cultivation.”
Bhaskar decided to cultivate green pea on 1 acre land, hoping for high rewards from the crop. In the subsequent year, he received 11 quintals of green pea from his first harvest and 9 quintals from his second harvest. The total cost of cultivation was about Rs. 16,600. The total gross income from 1 acre of green pea cultivation was Rs. 78,500, and a net income of Rs. 61,900. This income was much higher than conventional farming. In conventional cultivation, he would have harvested 15 quintals of wheat grain with a gross income of Rs. 30,000 and a net income of Rs. 21,000. “This small change has made a big difference in my life as far as livelihood is concerned,” says Bhaskar. The shorter duration of green pea cultivation also saves at least two irrigation cycles fewer than wheat, thereby saving water in the water-scarce region of Marathawada.
Twelve farmers from nearby villages were also guided to adopt green pea cultivation by S M Sehgal Foundation. These farmers also witnessed significant increases in income. Observing the success of these twelve farmers, 128 farmers from eight villages planted green pea in 75 acres of land in 2021. They will take two pickings of green pea, and farmers are likely to earn Rs 1,12,000/ per acre at Rs. 60/per kg selling price. Farmers in Aurangabad have shown great willingness to adopt new crops to increase their income from agriculture.
Bhaskar’s success is being talked about widely and serving as motivation for other farmers to adopt new methods and agriculture techniques. Guidance and field-based support go a long way.
(Authors: Yogesh Singare & Vishnu Khedkar work in Aurangabad with S M Sehgal Foundation)