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The intercropping of dragon fruit and marigold boosting farmers’ income through Participatory Technology Development

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16 April 2024, New Delhi: ICAR-Indian Institute of Vegetable Research, Varanasi is working towards the socio-economic upliftment of vegetable growers and farmers by providing innovative, technology-driven solutions in collaboration with its ICAR-Krishi Vigyan Kendra in Bhadohi, Deoria, and Kushinagar districts. ICAR-IIVR is promoting entrepreneurship and income generation among unemployed rural youth through participatory technology development in agriculture-related activities.

Mr. Seemant Mishra, a highly educated farmer from Kurauna, Bhadohi, holds M. Sc. Degree in Horticulture. During his post-graduation, he visited ICAR-Krishi Vigyan Kendra in Bhadohi with his father and learned about dragon fruit cultivation from various sources, including ICAR-KVK scientists, YouTube, newspapers, and the District Horticulture Office. He then decided to start dragon fruit cultivation with all the knowledge and skills gained from the institute.

In July 2022, Mr. Mishra purchased 488 cuttings of Dragon fruit from a farmer in Mirzapur and planted 444 plants at 111 cemented poles (4 cuttings per pole) using his 0.25-hectare farm area. Usually, the dragon fruit starts flowering in the second year after transplanting, so for the first year, he was concerned about using empty spaces between the rows. He then consulted ICAR-KVK experts who suggested diversified intercropping to generate more income for livelihood. The experts advised him to grow Coriander for leaf and grain, Kasuri methi for green and dry leaves, chilli/tomato for domestic use, and marigold flowers for garlands.

A complete package of practices including varietal selection, nutrient, insect, and pest management solutions was provided to him. He purchased saplings of Marigold at Rs. 1/ sappling from the Mohansarai area of Varanasi and planted 2000 plants of marigolds. He produced and used chilli and tomato for household needs throughout the season and saved about Rs 2000/- by utilizing homegrown tomato, chilli, coriander, and Kasuri methi. About 8 kg coriander seed was obtained at maturity worth rupees Rs 640/- and it was sufficient for their domestic consumption for the whole year.

The father-son duo sold loose marigold flowers daily at Rs. 20-30/kg, earning Rs. 25000/- in three months. After deducting the cost of purchased saplings, cultivation cost, and field-related expenses, they achieved a net profit of Rs. 15000/-with a B: C ratio of 1.67, suggesting substantial profitability associated with this venture.

They successfully planted dragon fruit in rows with marigold as an intercrop, resulting in 22-25 high-quality fruits. They decided to repeat this model and planted 3500 marigold saplings in November 2023. Other crops like tomato, chilli, coriander, and Kashurimethi were planted separately. Farmers and youths from nearby villages visited the field and adopted this practice. The farmers are happy with the profit from dragon fruit cultivation and acknowledge the scientific solutions provided by ICAR-IIVR, KVK, Bhadohi, aiming to improve the socio-economic status of farmers and rural youths.

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