Water spinach variety ‘Kashi Manu’ as Upland leafy vegetable: A boon for farmers

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22 August 2022, New Delhi: Water spinach is commonly used as a food plant. The leaves are a good source of minerals, vitamins and is considered a possible source of food protein. It also possesses several medicinal properties. Water spinach is rich in fiber and aids in digestion. Being rich in iron, its beneficial for people with anemia as well as for those who require iron in their diets.

All parts of the young plant of water spinach are edible. Water spinach is commonly grown in waterlogged areas. However, such cultivation requires cumbersome practices for plant protection measures and harvesting. This also invites water pollutants harmful for human health.

Therefore, an attempt was made for scientific cultivation of Water spinach in upland field conditions by ICAR-Indian Institute of Vegetable Research, Varanasi and promising results were obtained for the same. The technology is simple and can be cultivated round the year which can be boon for the socio-economic upliftment of the growers.

The advantages of Upland Water spinach are multiple cuttings, can be grown throughout the year, in upland field condition and submerged condition is not necessary. The produce may be free from water pollutants, technology promises “Safe Biomass”, can be raised by both seed as well as vegetative mode. Thus, popularization of Water spinach cultivar ‘Kashi Manu’ among growers promises socioeconomic prosperity as well as nutritional security.

Impact of the technology

This initiative proved to be a real helping hand in boosting the farmer’s dependency on the area under cultivation and management practices adopted. The technology has been demonstrated in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab, Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh (Varanasi-2.2 ha, Mirzapur -1.8 ha, Chandauli  -0.2 ha, Sonebhdra – 0.8 ha, Gazipur- 0.2 ha, Mau-0.2 ha, Jaunpur- 0.6 ha, Ayodhya – 0.2 ha, Balia-0.4 ha, Banda-0.2 ha and Kushinagar-0.2 ha). In addition, planting materials distributed to more than 1000 families for kitchen garden/roof gardening for nutrition security.

Progressive farmers like Shri Pratap Narayan Maurya from Allauddinpur, Varanasi; Shri Akhilesh Singh from Chhitak Pur, Mirzapur and Shri Subhas K Pal from Kuttupur, Jaunpur has cultivated the crop for commercial cultivation and harvested leafy biomass 90-100 tons/ha with average cost of cultivation of ₹ 1,40,000/- to 1,50,000/ hectare. Average sale price of leafy biomass ranges between Rs 15-20/kg with income to the range of Rs 12,00, 000/- to 15,00,000/ hectare/year.

This initiative worked as a catalyst in inspiring other farmers in the nearby villages towards water spinach cultivation in upland condition and there is a good demand of the planting material considering the potential of entrepreneurship development among the youth farmers. Besides, this crop is also suitable for green fodder and feed and also a potential candidate crop for organic / natural farming.

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