ITC initiative a hit with some UP farmers

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Varanasi | Published: December 25, 2018 3:35 AM

Asked about the cost of cultivation of moong, Singh said, he incurred about Rs 2,000 for seeds, fertiliser and water for the two-acre area where the crop was grown.

High debt is not driving Indian farmers to suicide: PMEAC member Shamika RaviIn UP alone, ITC has covered 2 lakh farmer households under the programme and so far about 30,000 have reported doubling of their income, Rai said.

As the government faces flak from farmer organisations over its failure to ensure minimum support prices (MSPs) for their crops, a section of the farming community in Uttar Pradesh is not complaining as it gets some additional income by taking a third crop in a year. These farmers, who are a part of ITC’s ‘Baareh Mahine Hariyali’ initiative, claim to have doubled their income in past two-three years. Ashish Kumar Singh, 40, of Ghoshuan village in UP’s Chandauli district, has taken up summer moong as an additional crop before paddy, which is the major kharif cereal cultivated in the region. “Earlier, I used to grow paddy in kharif and wheat in rabi. But I am now getting Rs 12,000 extra per acre from summer moong,” Singh said.

The income from wheat and paddy crop has also increased after he adopted improved high yielding seeds and used farm machinery, he added. He further said the summer moong got him an yield of 8 quintal out of which the labour took 2 quintal in lieu of their wages. He sold the remaining at the local Chandauli mandi at Rs 4,000 per quintal. “Since this was my first year, I sowed in two acres. Next year, I will cover this in my entire field,” said Singh, who has 10 acres of agricultural land.

Asked about the cost of cultivation of moong, Singh said, he incurred about Rs 2,000 for seeds, fertiliser and water for the two-acre area where the crop was grown. If the labour cost is included (as they are paid in terms of crops), the total cost of cultivation will be about Rs 5,000 an acre. This compares with Rs 4,650 a quintal estimated by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) for 2018-19. The government has fixed moong MSP at Rs 6,975 a quintal this year as part of an exercise to fix the MSPs of all crops at 50% over their costs.

“This is summer moong and farmers are not dependent on it. In case of kharif moong, some farmers take it as the sole crop in that season and getting MSP is an issue for them. Since we are promoting this as an additional income source, farmers are satisfied even if they are not getting the MSP,” said Rajnikant Rai, chief operating officer of ITC’s agri business division. He said ITC took the initiative to multiply farm income through crop diversification and value addition, productivity enhancement and raising cropping intensity, besides boosting market linkages.

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The income enhancement initiative was started two years ago in four districts of UP — Ghazipur, Chandauli, Allahabad and Hathras — and Bihar’s Munger district on a pilot basis. In UP alone, ITC has covered 2 lakh farmer households under the programme and so far about 30,000 have reported doubling of their income, Rai said. Many farmers have increased their income by 30-75%, he added.

“There could be several other factors contributing to the increase. But the farmers themselves acknowledge how they have been inspired by ITC’s field level demonstration. We have been trying to arrange the best pre-harvest practices like high-yielding seed varieties suitable to the local climate and modern farm machinery, which all contribute to raise their income,” said S Sivakumar, group head of ITC’s agri & IT business divisions.

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