An experiment with drumstick (scientific name: moringa, and commonly called nugge kayi in Kannada) has turned out to be a lucrative proposition for an engineer, who has shown how this popular crop can bring about a positive change in the financial condition of small and marginal farmers in dry and rain-fed areas.
It was more than two years ago that S.C. Kamte, principal of city-based Shaikh Engineering College, was trying to explore what can be grown in his agricultural land at Hattarawat, in the dry region of Chikkodi taluk. Initially, he thought of cultivating castor seeds, pomegranate, ber (Indian plum), custard apple, and curry leaves. He, however, dropped the idea considering the high cultivation cost. Then, Dr. Kamte met Ravindra Mulge, professor at the Horticulture College, Arabhavi, Gokak taluk, who suggested him to experiment with drumstick.
Subsequently, Dr. Kamte met N.B. Gaddagimath, managing director of Sarpan Hybrid Seeds Co. Pvt. Ltd., Dharwad, who advised him to experiment with the high-yielding variety of drumstick — Bhagya KDM 01. The two experts also enlightened Dr. Kamte on how to cultivate drumstick, a crop best grown in high temperature areas with less water.
To begin with, Dr. Kamte planted drumstick seeds in his 1 acre and 10 gunta land in June last year. He had already taken up soya bean cultivation. He then installed a drip irrigation system, 95 per cent of the total cost for which came as government subsidy. The waste produced after harvesting soya bean crop — after about three months of sowing drumstick seeds — was used as manure, which helped in fixing nitrogen content naturally and boosted soil fertility.
He said that since drumstick is resistant to most pests but could suffer root rot in waterlogged conditions owing to excessive rainfall, he did not even use any fertilizer.“The crop is almost maintenance-free and very less water is required to boost its growth,” he said.
Today, Dr. Kamte is a happy man. Against the expected 150 to 200 pods per tree, he gets about 400 to 450 pods and the number could increase once the trees attain maturity. With the prevailing basic price of Rs. 25 to Rs. 30 for a kg of drumstick, he expects Rs. 3 lakh to Rs. 3.5 lakh in just one year.
“To earn this kind of income from other commercial crop such as sugarcane, a farmer having assured irrigation facility needs to take up cultivation in at least 8 acres of land,” he said.
Dr. Kamte said his total investment was less than Rs. 15,000, which included his share towards drip irrigation and about Rs. 500 for 250 g of drumstick seeds.
“If I can do this, why not other small and marginal farmers in chronically drought-prone areas … it would help them better their financial condition,” he said.
The lifespan of a drumstick tree varies between 15 and 20 years and it yields all through the year, assuring a regular source of income. Dr. Kamte’s successful experimentation with drumstick is now attracting other farmers, who are frequenting his farm to study and emulate his model.
Dr. Kamte is an M.Tech and Ph.D. degree holder and a gold medallist from Visvesvaraya Technological University.
Drumsticks are dwarf fruits. They are 45 to 50-cm long and are dark green in colour with high flesh and soft seeds
Cost of cultivation and maintenance is lesser than other commercial crops; gives very good returns
Drumstick leaves, flowers and pods are full of nutrients and have medicinal value