Karnataka

Reaping it rich through rainwater

Ramesh Gowda K. used rainwater stored in a farm pond (right) to grow the Arka Rakshak variety of tomato. According to estimates, his standing crop may fetch him about ₹14 lakh if there is no dip in tomato price for the next two months.

Ramesh Gowda K. used rainwater stored in a farm pond (right) to grow the Arka Rakshak variety of tomato. According to estimates, his standing crop may fetch him about ₹14 lakh if there is no dip in tomato price for the next two months.  

The water requirement is lower owing to the use of drip irrigation system and mulching cover that prevents evaporation.

At a time when farmers in irrigated areas are complaining of agriculture being a loss-making venture, a former bank executive-turned-farmer at Devanahalli has caught the attention of experts by reaping a rich yield of elite varieties of tomato from rainwater alone. According to estimates, his standing crop may fetch him about ₹14 lakh if there is no dip in tomato price for the next two months.

Ramesh Gowda K., 39, has used rainwater stored in a farm pond to grow the Arka Rakshak variety of tomato developed by the Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR). While he has already harvested about 10 tonnes of the fruit, he is expected to get another 60 tonnes of yield over the next two months.

After building a 40x40 ft farm pond with a depth of 10 ft having polythene-covered inner layer, he used a diesel pump to supply water to tomato crop through drip irrigation system. “Of late, I supply water almost twice a day for about two hours, which costs about ₹150,” he says.

Ramesh Gowda K. used rainwater stored in a farm pond to grow the Arka Rakshak variety of tomato developed by the Indian Institute of Horticultural Research.

Ramesh Gowda K. used rainwater stored in a farm pond to grow the Arka Rakshak variety of tomato developed by the Indian Institute of Horticultural Research.   | Photo Credit: Handout E Mail

 

According to him, the water requirement is lower owing to the use of drip irrigation system and mulching cover that prevents evaporation. “Ever since I started tomato cultivation from May 28, I have borrowed water from others only for two weeks. The rest I have managed with rainwater alone,” he says.

While Mr. Gowda is expected to get returns of ₹14 lakh as per conservative estimates, his actual income would stand around ₹7 lakh as he has spent nearly ₹7 lakh on creating farm infrastructure as well as labour charges. “Earning ₹7 lakh in just four months (duration of tomato crop) is not an ordinary thing,” Mr. Gowda says with pride, as the IIHR organised a field day on his farm earlier this week to create public awareness on his efforts.

“About nine years ago, I quit my job and returned to my village where my family had six acres of land,” says Mr. Gowda. He experimented with various crops in the last nine years, but none proved to be rewarding. He learnt about the high-yielding variety through YouTube and got seeds from IIHR.

A.T. Sadashiva, head of IIHR’s vegetable crops division, who headed a team of researchers which developed Arka Rakshak variety that has resistance to three major diseases, says the yield would have been a little more under regular irrigation system.

S. Shankara Hebbar, IIHR’s Principal Scientist (Agronomy), feels that this high-yielding tomato variety could now be experimented even in rain-fed areas with additional source of irrigation in case of shortfall in rain, to enhance farmers’ income.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 4:14:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/reaping-it-rich-through-rainwater/article24506167.ece

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