Coconut is an important plantation crop in Goa being cultivated in an area of 25,730 ha with an average yield of 5014 kg per hectare. In general, coconut is planted at a spacing of 8x8m and interspace in majority of the coconut farms is either unutilized or underutilized. Hence, in order to enhance the profitability of coconut, various crops and other components were evaluated. Among them, Heliconia, an exotic introduced flower, crop performed well under coconut plantation for three years (2009-2012). The study included 45 varieties of heliconia under coconut garden for various vegetative and floral characters. The flowers were supplied to the market and the feedback from the market is documented to short list the most promising heliconia types with high floral value.
Technology demonstration at Bicholim taluk, Goa
Mrs. Vijayadevi Rane has an agriculture farm at Karapur village in Bicholim taluk of Goa. She was interested to cultivate selected heliconia types for cut flower purpose. The heliconia varieties were selected as per the demand from the flower market of Goa. Among the varieties evaluated at ICAR Research Complex for Goa, six most promising varieties of heliconia viz., Sexy Pink, Temptress, Jacuni, Kauwachi, Shee and Iris Benochi were selected and recommended for plantation. A model pilot project on the cultivation as well as economics was prepared and the same is being demonstrated at the farm in Goa
All six heliconia varieties were planted as inter crop in 12 year old adult coconut plantation at an spacing of 2x2m so as to accommodate 20 plants in four coconut palms. A total of 2000 heliconia and other types of plants were planted during December, 2012 and follow up visits are being made every month to guide the farmer on different aspects of heliconia cultivation.
Initially the selected heliconia varieties (totalling to 875 plants) were procured from the nursery at an estimated cost of Rs.1, 50,000/- and the same was planted in an area of around 3000 m2 of coconut plantation. The production cost includes planting material (75%) followed by manuring and watering. Heliconia is a hardy crop practically free from any pest and disease problem. Ten per cent of cost is towards the harvesting, packing and transport of flowers. Hence, the total cost of production is Rs.1, 00,000/- for one year. A net income of Rs.1, 42,950/- is realized as additional income from the coconut plantation by way of heliconia cultivation in Goa in one year.
In addition to the above income, the plantation will be maintained for 3-4 years with increased flower as well as sucker production compared to first year of production. Since flower demand is huge in the tourist destination like Goa and annual flower market works out to be around Rs.30 crores in Goa alone, ICAR Research Complex for Goa is promoting commercial floriculture through many progressive farmers in the state of Goa.
(Source: ICAR Research Complex for Goa, Goa)