Shri Chandan Kumar Khuntia, an employee at SAIL, Bhubaneswar and a resident of Gualigorada Village, Satyabadi Block, Puri District, Odisha has set himself as an example of successful entrepreneur in his vicinity by adopting the practice of farming. After starting his career at the reputed organization SAIL, Bhubaneswar, he returned to his roots with a passion for farming in 2014 converting around 12 acres of low land used for growing paddy into upland with pond and tube well as the main sources of irrigation. For this, he started growing the different vegetable crops like spiny gourd, bitter gourd, capsicum, brinjal, cowpea, etc., including pointed gourd. But, less demand for the dark-colored, thick-skinned, hard seeded fruit in the market, made him to visit the ICAR-Research Complex for Eastern Region, Bihar Veterinary College, Patna, Bihar during a Training Programme organized by the local Krishi Vigyan Kendra where he got exposed to the improved cultivars.
On starting the cultivation of the Swarna Rekha and Swarna Alaukik in 2015 in a small area, Shri Khuntia observed Swarna Alaukik as most preferred in markets of Puri, Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. After the damages caused in his fields due to the outbreak of Cyclone Fani during 2018, he started afresh with only Swarna Alaukik in 2019 in an area of 1.0 acre. For this, he purchased 1,750 plants from the Centre during October, 2019 and planted them with a spacing of 1.5 m x 1.5 m under the trellis system with mulching. He received a bumper production of 107 quintals of pointed gourd during February to August, 2020. The average market price was Rs. 50/- with a maximum of Rs. 180/- from the month of February.
Even during the challenging times of complete lockdown due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic, he could sell his harvest and reap the benefits. He earned a net profit of Rs. 3,37,310/- against the investment of total amount of Rs. 1,97,670/-. Shri Khuntia also received the technical guidance to start commercial production of plants for sale to the farmers due to the huge demand for the variety in Odisha. He produced a total of 10,000 plants and sold at Rs. 20/- during the season that benefited him with an additional income of Rs. 2,00,000/- with a net profit of Rs. 1,20,000/-. Now, many farmers of Odisha are approaching him for the planting material of Swarna Alaukik, paving a new way of entrepreneurship.
The vegetable’s high nutritive and medicinal value has shown increased consumer preference creating a niche in the health-conscious market. The scientific cultivation of pointed gourd in non-traditional areas like Odisha and Jharkhand has created a new avenue for the farming community to be self-sustainable and profitable.
(Source: ICAR-Research Complex for Eastern Region, Bihar Veterinary College, Patna, Bihar)