At a time when most of the farmers of drought prone areas are showing disinterest in farming, a progressive farmer of this village situated in the fluoride-affected Tirumalayapalem mandal is reaping rich dividends by cultivating mulberry in adherence to prudent water and crop management practices.
B. Devender Reddy, 50, a marginal farmer of Beerolu, has switched over to mulberry cultivation three years ago after harvesting commercial crops like cotton and chilli over the past several years. He has diversified into mulberry following limited success in his earlier agricultural operations due to drought like conditions and other factors. He raised mulberry plants initially in two acres and set up a silkworm rearing shed by availing 50 per cent subsidy from the Sericulture Department. Thanks to the institutionalised marketing facility arranged by the Sericulture Department, Mr. Reddy earned good profits by excelling in mulberry cultivation, silkworm rearing and cocoon production. Buoyed by the success, he extended mulberry cultivation to three more acres and established another rearing shed a year ago. Taking cue from his successful venture, 13 more farmers of the same village shifted to mulberry cultivation. With the cocoons commanding a good price in the market, the sericulture activity, which remained dull a few years ago due to a combination of factors like fluctuation in prices of silk in the international market, is fast gaining acceptance among many small and marginal farmers. “I owe my success in mulberry cultivation to effective management of the limited water resources and optimum utilisation of the scientific methods of crop management and eco-friendly pest control techniques,” said Mr. Devender Reddy. “I consider mulberry cultivation an economically viable enterprise as the perennial crop can be grown four to five times in a year. The subsidy of Rs. 1 lakh being provided by the government for setting up silkworm rearing shed is inadequate. It should be enhanced to at least Rs 1.50 lakh to motivate more small and marginal farmers to take up mulberry cultivation and silkworm rearing,” he says.
One acre of mulberry plantation fetches good income ranging from Rs. 35,000 to Rs. 45,000 if cultivated in accordance with the scientific methods. “I had earned Rs 1.16 lakh income through the sale of Bivoltine and Multivoltine cocoons in the market ,”he said.