Farmers in Jaleswar area of Balasore district have scripted a success story with natural pollination in the spine gourd farming. Apart from making profit from the vegetable, they are selling tubers and roots as planting materials.
Farmers residing in the villages located on both sides of river Subarnarekha have always been innovative and successful in introducing new crop. Three years back, Satyajit Bera and Gopal Sahu of Sekhsarai village under Rajpur panchayat of Jaleswar block started cultivating spine gourd in around 25 decimal of land each and earned profit which attracted other farmers of the region.
Initially, both the farmers had brought the planting materials from West Bengal. Now they have been generating planting materials through natural pollination with the technological help from agriculturists and selling them at Rs 5 per piece. Farmers prefer tubers or roots as a planting material rather than seeds because the quality of plants, fruits and fruit bearing capacity is better through root propagation method. Now farmers in at least three villages here have cultivated this vegetable in around 15 acres of land.
Farmers are harvesting more than 50 quintals of the vegetable per acre and selling at an average of `30 per kg. “We are getting at least `1 lakh as a net profit per acre per year. It will definitely increase if we can get a proper market linkage and sell the vegetable directly to the customers,” said Bhagirathi Giri of Chalanti village. Spine gourd (Momordica dioica), locally known as Kankada, comes under cucurbitaceae family.
Farmers are now using more organic inputs in the cultivation of spine gourds. A farmer Rabi Nayak said organic inputs like well decomposed dried compost, oil cakes, neem oil, vermi compost help the plants bear more fruits besides making them tolerant towards disease, pest and keeping the soil healthier. “We do not use fertiliser,” he said.
As per the agro-climatic condition, farmers here start the cultivation in January and harvest from April till September. Farm Information and Advisory Centre (FIAC) of Jaleswar under Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA) of Balasore unit is assisting them in pollination and imparting them training on methods of producing organic inputs, staking, pest surveillance and plant protection measures.
Block Technology Manager of FIAC Santanu Kumar Patra said the major problem in the spine gourd farming is pollination. “It is because of more chemical farming in the nearby plots. Here natural pollinators like honey bees are distracted. But farmers have overcome this problem in a great way after the intervention from the FIAC,” he said.
Patra said farmers collect male flowers every day before sunrise and pollens are either dusted or sprayed over stigmas of female flowers comfortably between early morning and noon. Farmers have also been advised to go for apiary (rearing of honey bees) for better pollination, he added.