Shri Sachin Jha: a budding Agri-entrepreneur
Shri Sachin Jha: a budding Agri-entrepreneur

Shri Sachin Jha, working for Krishi Darshan at Doordarshan, Ranchi, was a regular visitor to Farming Systems Research Centre for Hill and Plateau Region (FSRCHPR of ICAR-RCER), Ranchi, and developed a passion for farming. He was an immediate learner and perceived the prospects of pointed gourd (Parwal) farming in Jharkhand. The well-maintained blocks of Parwal at Farm-I of FSRCHPR, Ranchi were undoubtedly the trigger for his venture into Agri-entrepreneurship.

Parwal is a highly remunerative crop due to its prolonged fruiting season from February to October. Demand is huge in the markets of North-eastern Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh.

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Shri Jha took a lease of 25 acres of land at Anandi Village, Oromanjhi Block, Ranchi for farming in 2021. Experts from the Centre provided the necessary technology for establishment and maintenance of the mother block of the pointed gourd varieties developed by the Centre viz., Swarna Alaukik, Swarna Suruchi and Swarna Rekha. These varieties are high-yielding (average yield 25-30t/ha) with soft seeds and soft flesh. Swarna Rekha is a striped variety and Swarna Alaukik and Swarna Suruchi are light greenish in colour without stripes and suitable for both table and sweet preparation.

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An MoU was signed under a Technology license with the Centre for mother block establishment and simultaneously another MoU for mentoring under the ABI Project of the Institute in 2021. Mother block was established in October 2021 in a one-hectare area with 10,000 plants on a vertical trellis system.

The first harvest started around April and continued until October, producing 18 tonnes from one ha of land during the first year. The market price was ranging between Rs 35/- to Rs 120/- with an average of Rs 40/-. According to the details provided by him, a gross income of Rs 7,50,000/- was obtained by the sale of fruits. In the second year, a net house was installed for vegetative propagation of the Parwal. He was also technically guided to start commercial production of plants for sale to the farmers as there is a huge demand for these varieties. He was successful in producing new plants from cuttings and around 50,000 plants were produced. Eight thousand plants were used to expand the mother block in another 2 acres of area and the remaining 42,000 plants were sold to the farmers of Odisha, Bihar, and Jharkhand at a rate of Rs 15/- per plant fetching an additional income of Rs 6,30,000/-. Apart from this, he is also cultivating cucurbitaceous fruits and vegetables during the offseason with the expertise of the research centre.

Shri Sachin Jha is a brand ambassador of Parwal cultivation and a source of inspiration for his fellow farmers on how agriculture can definitely be a business. He has been selected for demonstration of pointed gourd cultivation by Department of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Cooperative, Government of Jharkhand in eleven districts with 20 demonstrations in each district under PPP mode.

Searching for a suitable niche that has sustainable and exponential growth is definitely game-changing, especially in Agri-entrepreneurship. The scientific cultivation of pointed gourd in non-traditional areas like Jharkhand has created a new avenue for the farming community to be self-sustainable and profitable.

(Source: ICAR Research Complex for Eastern Region FSRCHPR, Ranchi)

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