Small Input – Large Gain Intervention in Tribal Village
Mango, the most important fruit of India, is grown in an area of 1.23 million hectares, with an annual production of 10.99 million tons. This amount accounts for more than 50% of the total world production. In Jharkhand, Gumla is a leading district in mango production. Its commercial plantation in Gumla began in 2009, and today farmers grow Amrapali as a leading variety in more than 600 hectares of land and produce more than 20 tonnes of mangoes worth over Rs. 2.0 crore in each season. The journey of mango plantation in Gumla started from the Silam Village in the Raidih block while being associated with Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY). ICAR-Research Complex for Eastern Region, Regional Centre (ICAR-RCER, RC), Ranchi, and PRADAN, an NGO working very effectively in the region, provided the guidance and technical support in establishing productive orchards, and selection of variety and best practice package of practices (POP) elements for mango cultivation.
Initially, farmers did not have the expertise to practice regular bug management, and milli-bugs and fruit-flies routinely obstructed high yields. Other agricultural requirements such as PGR, micronutrients, or hormone sprays were also unavailable for use by the farmers. However, the involvement of ICAR-RCER, PRADAN, and state agencies, all who collaboratively set up protocols for mango plantations, helped improve the situation.
Despite the abovementioned efforts to help improve yield and encourage mango plantation in Raidih, little attention was paid to the spraying initiative, a crucial need of the farmers. After several years of negligible collaborative efforts being directed towards the spraying initiatives, ICAR-RCER, RC and ICAR-Indian Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology (ICAR-IIAB), Ranchi initiated a training program on mango spraying. Agri-entrepreneurs (AEs), mainly from Raidih, were invited to the training session. ICAR-RCER, RC, ICAR-IIAB, Syngenta Foundation India (SFI), and Transform Rural India Foundation (TRIF) were all training partners. Farmers received training on mango cultivation practices and spraying schedules. ICAR-IIAB provided 20 rocking sprayers under Scheduled Tribe Component (STC) to 20 scheduled tribe AEs identified by ICAR-IIAB with the help of SFI just before the onset of flowering in mango in 2020 and conducted a one-day field demonstration of spraying on mango trees. ICAR-IIAB and SFI also provided up-to-date technology to help business growth and facilitated zero-interest loans for mango farmers. ICAR-IIAB and SFI jointly monitored the crop during its entire fruiting season and collated data
on different scientific parameters affected by spraying. Moreover, the monetary benefit gained by the farmers through spraying was also calculated. The analysis of data indicated that timely spraying of micronutrients and fungicides significantly reduced the infection of black sooty mold in the fruits; as a result, only 6.0% of the mature mango fruits sprayed with fungicides had more than 10% surface area covered with black spots as compared to 64% on the non-sprayed mangoes. Although there was no significant difference in fruit number per cluster, there was a marked improvement in fruit grade. The proportion of ‘A’ grade fruits (>200 gm) was recorded to be maximum (76%) with the timely spraying of recommended chemicals as compared to 40.2% in the non-sprayed ones. Overall, there had been a yield advantage of 110.3% due to timely sprayings at the critical phenological stages. Thus, considering that 400 Arapali trees can be accommodated in one-hectare land under high-density planting (5m × 5m) and the average on-field per-kg price of mango is Rs. 25/-, per hectare monetary advantage gained by the farmer due to timely spraying, would be around Rs. 2,75,000/-.
With the “king of fruits” flourishing in Raidih, ICAR-IIAB, along with its collaborating partners, ICAR-RCER, Ranchi, and SFI, look towards providing small and marginal mango farmers more access to financial and technical support, as well as guidance. We also intend to organize more meetings and workshops where buyers and sellers can meet nationally and internationally.
Figure: Mango bearing at an orchard at Raidih
Figure: Tribal farmers selling mangoes in local mandi