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Current Position:Home » News » Marketing & Retail » Topic

Organic farmer says there’s plenty of money in lemons

Zoom in font  Zoom out font Published: 2019-01-04  Views: 7
Core Tip: Most farmers in the Surendranagar district, India’s largest cotton producer, have harvested little crop following last year’s monsoon failure.
Most farmers in the Surendranagar district, India’s largest cotton producer, have harvested little crop following last year’s monsoon failure. Surendranagar, like much of Gujarat’s Saurashtra region, is reeling under drought.

Grower Hamirsinh Parmar from the village of Gautamgadh is an exception. He is financially still okay, thanks to the income from his lemon orchard and the higher prices of his organically-farmed produce.

Parmar has six hectares land, on which his lemon orchard is in a plot  measuring some 1.6 hectares: “I was growing cotton and groundnut, whose market prices and yields were prone to fluctuations. About 25 years ago, I decided to develop this particular plot into an orchard by planting 220 lemon saplings.”

In 2007-08, Parmar converted the orchard —having an open well recharged by water from the Nayka Dam on the Bhogavo River— into an organic field. “My previous job required me to meet farmers to procure their cotton. They would complain about how the cost of chemical fertilisers and pesticides kept spiralling, without any commensurate increase in yields. Moreover, farmers, unlike other businessmen, could never set the price of their crop. I wanted to break the mould, both by stopping inorganic chemical use and deciding what rate to sell my produce,” he tells The Indian Express.

Parmar decided to reinforce the dyke around his orchard, to prevent entry of rainwater from neighbouring fields whose farmers could be using chemicals. He also installed a drip irrigation system to cut water consumption. To prepare manure, he used the dung from a cow reared on his farm and foliage from trees — lemon, neem, rose apple, apple berry, mango and chikoo — and stems of vegetables grown as an intercrop in the orchard.

For pest control, he formulated a compound of lemon extracts, aankado (Calotropis procera) leaves, cow urine and butter milk. “I make about 1,000 50-kg bags of manure annually, a quarter of which is used in my orchard. The rest I sell; that alone earns me over Rs 100,000 [€1,250],” claims Parmar.

The grower now harvests 100 kgs of lemons on an average per year. Since the trees don’t grow too high, he is also able to take vegetables as intercrops round the year. “I have been marketing my lemons and vegetables as produce harvested from an organic farm. Being richer in taste and aroma, too, my consumers don’t mind paying 15-25 per cent more than the market rate. Normal lemon sells for Rs 80 (€1.00) per kg, while my product fetches Rs 100 (€1.25). Besides, I make roughly Rs 1,000 daily from sale of brinjal, okra, spinach leaves and other vegetables grown in the same orchard.”

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