An experiment in Gujarat on castor seed has yielded double the output over conventional farming, without significant change in farm practices or additional expense.
It has been conducted over 160 hectares in six districts, using the GCH-7 variety of higher yielding seed, developed by Sardar krushinagar Dantiwada Agricultural University (SDAU), Palanpur.
The output per hectare it has reported, from most areas, is an average of four tonnes. Conventional means have not given more than two tonnes per ha.
This could revolutionise the lives of thousands of farmers across Gujarat, Telangana, Rajasthan and other major growing states.
“Farming was done under our guidance and continuous monitoring, which doubled farmers’ income without significant change in farm practices or additional input cost,” said Atul Chaturvedi, president, Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA).
SEA plans to expand the model farming area this year to 200 hectares across Gujarat, Telangana and Rajasthan, with the same variety of seed and farm practices.
The GCH-7 variety apparently withstands adverse climatic conditions. Worm and pest attacks are another story and SDAU is working to develop seeds to withstand these, too.
The development assumes significance in the wake of farmers shifting to other crops for better return.
Its production, consequently, started falling; it was 1.4 mt in 2016-17. The latest estimate from the Union ministry of agriculture is for 1.5 mt in 2017-18.
“Doubling the output will not impact its prices, due to its ever increasing demand. Hence, farmers might opt for growing more of it, for better and sustained realisation,” anticipates Haresh Vyas, joint managing director at Royal Castor Products, a castor oil derivatives manufacturer.