Pumpkin Revolution in Nalbari District নলবাৰী জিলাত ৰঙালাও বিপ্লৱ

~Dr Mridul Deka
~Mr Himadri Shekhar Datta

Our farmers have often been perceived as lacking initiative, but the latest developments on the farm front belie that stereotype. Not only have they shown initiative, but they have started a quiet revolution on their own steam.The results are, simply startling and the prospects look promising. The phenomenon can be summed up in one sentence: Pumpkin revolution in Nalbari.
Pumpkin is an important vegetable of Cucurbitaceae family and occupies a prominent place owing to its high productivity, nutritive value, good storability, long period of availability and better transport potentialities. Pumpkin fruit is extensively used as a vegetable both in immature and mature stages throughout India.
Pumpkins are an amazing source of vitamin A, an anti-aging nutrient that jump-starts your skin’s cell renewal process and increases the production of collagen for smooth, youthful-looking skin. Pumpkin seeds provide a good dose of zinc and the mineral appears to play a role in men’s sexual health, including fertility, potency, and sex drive. Pumpkin seeds can also help your body get rid of nasty gut parasites that can make you sick.Pumpkin boost eye vision and may lower blood pressure.

Farmers prefer to produce and sell vegetables in the offseason for more income.Offseason cultivation refers to the production of vegetable before or after their normal cultivation seasons of production which can be accomplished by using different agro climatic condition and adjusting the planting time etc.The agricultural crop year in India is from July to June. The Indian cropping season is classified into two main seasons-(i) Kharif and (ii) Rabi based on the monsoon. The kharif cropping season is from July –September and the Rabi cropping season is from October-March (winter).
Nalbari district is situated in the lower part of Assam at an elevation of 42 m from mean sea level.The economy of the district is agrarian in nature where agriculture is the only way of economic security and livelihood of their families.At a time when farmers are not getting premium price for their produce,the farmers of Chengnoi and Moiradanga and its adjoining areas have been able to create records by production of offseason rabi pumpkin on the bank of river Pagladia in Nalbari district.Pumpkin is a very popular vegetable among the farmers of the district and is widely cultivated in Rabi season .However,in light soil(river bank),growing of pumpkin during Rabi season is difficult as water availability becomes very less due to low water holding capacity and irrigation cost increases by manifolds. So growing the crop in Rabi season is found to be less profitable. Offseason planting of pumpkin during July and August in a silt deposited area on a river bank helps reducing irrigation cost as the water retention capacity in such area is less. Early planting also helps in fetching good market price due to the market demand as at the time of early harvesting the pumpkin is scarce in the market.
With the intervention of KVK,Nalbari the planting time of Rabi pumpkin was preponed to July-August and it was found that change in planting time helps in reducing irrigation cost to a considerable extent in the given soil condition. Else planting during normal time in silt deposited river bank during October-November requires frequent irrigation and adds to production cost. Off season planting of Rabi pumpkin proved to be a successful one as early planting helps in fetching good market price due to the market demand besides reducing the cost of irrigation.It was found that August planted pumpkin gave average yield of 155 quintal per hectare while October planted crop gave 127 quintal per hectare. Economic of pumpkin cultivation revealed that cost of cultivation grown in an area of 1 ha was Rs 45,000.00 which gave gross and net returns of Rs 225,000.00 and Rs 189,750.00, respectively .The benefit: cost ratio worked out on the basis of net returns and cost of cultivation was 1: 5.38, which is a remarkable achievement .Pumpkin was sold from the farm at the rate of rupees 1700/- per quintal.
Hectares of land on the bank of river Pagladia has been lying fallow for several years in Moriadonga and changnoi area of Nalbari. The land was covered by jungles. The focus was on early cultivation of pumpkin and success was achieved. Mr Pankaj Kalita who was the farmer behind this pumpkin boom in the district is a source of inspiration for the farmers of that area. Two farms namely Jyoti Farmers Club at Changnoi and Sankardev Jaivik Krishi Farm on the bank of Pagladia are the epicenter of this pumpkin revolution.Within a short time,the farms has attracted many dignitaries andgot media coverage and won many awards. Businessmen from the neighbouring districts and states like Tripura,Nagaland are lifting their farm pumpkin.Scientists of KVK Nalbari guided and helped him in every aspect of pumpkin cultivation apart from support from state agriculture department and financial institutions.There has been horizontal spread of pumpkin cultivation in Nalbari district and also to neighbouring districts.Nalbari district is now becoming the pumpkin hub of the region and is contributing towards doubling farmers income.

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Writers-Dr Mridul Deka and Mr Himadri Shekhar Datta form Krishi Vigyan Kendra,AAU,Nalbari.

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