Commercial Banana production-A boon to small and marginal farmers for sustainable livelihood

The poverty level in Raebareli and Barabanki districts of U.P. is pathetic. Small land holders comprise nearly 60% of the population. The productivity and profitability (wheat-paddy main crop) is very poor and no other livelihood opportunity is available. Many of the farmers want to improve/ diversity their livelihood status but lack economic (cash) resources and exposure. Commercial banana production was used as cash crop for economic empowerment and diversification of livelihood. Most of the farmers opined that banana is a highly risky crop for the small land holders like them and offered resilience in adoption of the technology in spite of the availability of the good land and irrigation facilities.       

Shri Shiv Kumar Trivedi of Raunipur village (Trivediganj block) of Barabanki district is a farmers representing the beneficiary farmers under NAIP-3 (ICAR) subproject in the above category who needed reliable cash crop to diversify his livelihood base. He posed faith in the project team and led more than 60 farmer beneficiaries at initial period. His land holding was 0.75 ha in which rice-wheat or rice- mustard cropping was being done since 20 years. With this land he managed to earn an income of Rs. 45000/year to support his family of 3 men and 3 women.

He was allowed to divide his land for rice- wheat in about 0.60 ha and banana under high density system with G-9 variety in an area of about 0.15 ha. Initially he was intervened with the technology of SRI method of rice cultivation in the year 2009. Here his paddy survived in the late monsoon (drought) situation. Simultaneously 800 tissue cultured banana G-9 variety was planted at a spacing of 1.5 x 1.5m. During the rabi season wheat was taken up with the zero tillage cultivation after paddy harvest which saved him one irrigation and initial land preparation cost. Apart from this it also advanced the wheat sowing to about 15 days which fetched him a bumper harvest of 30 Q at the third week of March. This saved his crop from terminal shoot up of temperature during March where most of the normal wheat cultivation failed due to poor grain filling. An income of Rs.47000 was obtained from SRI paddy and wheat zero tillage cultivation.

Commercial Banana production-A boon to small and marginal farmers for sustainable livelihood   Commercial Banana production-A boon to small and marginal farmers for sustainable livelihood

Commercial Banana production-A boon to small and marginal farmers for sustainable livelihood

The farmers adopted banana cultivation as a challenge to prove the villagers that it can be possible to cultivate them with the threat of Neel gai (Blue bulls) and monkeys which numbered about 1200 in the village. He supplemented the fertilizer requirement with vermicomposting, earth worms (20 no./plant) and Trichoderma & Pseudomonads based liquid and farm manures. The entire dried leaves were used as mulch in the orchard. After 12-14 months of planting he harvested the first year crop which had an average bunch yield of 30 kg / plant. He earned a bumper net income of Rs.1,63,500/- from this banana crop which he narrated that never seen in life. His investment apart from planting materials was Rs.14,500/- under variable cost. Only family labour was utilized for cultivation. He is happy that he will be able to fulfill his long term dream of owning a tractor with the money earned. Presently he installed one flour mill, oil expeller and rice miller from the money earned this year.

Now, with the success story of Shri Shiv Kumar Trivedi and other, almost 70% farmers in the project area of both districts want to grow commercial banana on variable land holdings. Farmers from other districts are continuously visiting and contacting us for technical guidance.

(Source :R.B.Rai Consortium P.I. email: drrbraiatyahoo [dot] co [dot] in )