GOPALPALI( SAMBALPUR ): Bhindi, the humble vegetable, is changing the fortunes of the farmers of Gopapali village. Even the landless are earning handsome profits by cultivating bhindi (lady’s finger).
Cultivating bhindi is not new to the farmers of Gopapali. About four decades back just a handful of farmers of the nondescript village in Ward 13 under Sambalpur Municipal Corporation limits were into its cultivation. The profits they earned year after year attracted other villagers to the business. Now 130 families of the total 120 households in Gopalpali cultivate the vegetable, besides growing paddy.
In its peak sale season, the nondescript Gopapali village is now agog with activity. Buyers and traders from Belpahar, Sambalpur, Hirakud, Burla and Rengali are making a beeline to procure the produce. Proper planning and traditional knowledge have worked wonders for the farmers, who are now reaping profits of the crop cultivated in over 50 acres of land. While the season opens with the vegetable being sold at `60 per kg, it gradually comes down as the season advances but seldom has proved to be a loss for the farmers.
The flow of water from Hirakud Canal into the village coupled with clay loam soil and the present climatic condition is suitable for lady’s finger farming for which, the cultivators prefer to grow the vegetable besides traditional paddy, to add to their income. While people may be cursing the rising temperature, the growers of this vegetable welcome the weather as it reflects on the yield of the vegetable.
Damodar Pradhan (47), a farmer of the village, said they sow seeds in the last week of December and harvest the first crop by February last week and this continues till May end. If nursed and irrigated properly, one can harvest the vegetable till June end, he added. While he cultivates paddy over 10 acres, he grows lady’s finger over 20 decimals as it provides instant cash. “I harvest about 75 kg per day till the end of the season. By investing around `20,000 for lady’s finger I net a profit of `40,000,” he added.
Marketing has never been a worry for these farmers. The traders from within the district and neighbouring States buy it at `16 per kg. They, in turn sell it in the retail market between ` 25 to `30 per kg.
Another farmer, Panchanan Sahu (48) of the village revealed that last year he had earned a profit of `70,000 by harvesting 260 quintals of lady’s finger cultivated in half an acre of land. Hopeful of equal or more profit this year, he said his family members and hired labourers help in harvesting bhindi crop.
For the landless farmers, bhindi is ‘green gold’ as it has helped them earn good profits and lead a decent life. Farmers like Aditya Bhoi and Bablu Mirdha of the village have taken 15 decimals of land each on lease to cultivate the crop. In the presence of a buyback arrangement and specific traders they are assured of selling the crop at profit.