Praveen B. Para
Kalyanrao Jalji in his ajwain farm in Gotur village at Chittapur taluk in Kalaburagi district.
Kalyanrao Jalji has cultivated carom seeds in drought-prone Chittapur taluk of Kalaburagi district
When disturbing stories of agrarian crisis caused by drought were coming from across the State, Kalyanrao Jalji, a progressive farmer from Gotur village in drought-prone Chittapur taluk in Kalaburagi district, was making handsome profit. Cultivation of carom seeds (ajwain), a spice widely used in Indian kitchens for preparing delicacies as well as in pharmaceutical companies for manufacturing drugs addressing digestive disorders, made it all possible.
Jalji has cultivated carom seeds on his five acres of rain-fed land. He gets a yield of up to eight quintals an acre and sells the produce at up to ₹ 18,000 a quintal. The cost of cultivation, including labour, seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and other inputs, does not exceed ₹ 5,000 an acre. He gets a net profit of ₹ 1 lakh from an acre.
“Ajwain fetches good price. It has good demand in the Vikarabad market in Telangana. I have been selling my carom seeds at Rs. 18,000 a quintal for the last two years. I am also selling carom bran which is used for making spicy food products at ₹ 4,000 a quintal from which I am getting an additional income of ₹ 20,000,” he told The Hindu.
Jalji’s standing ajwain crop this year is four feet high now and it can be harvested after a month. He is expecting a yield of around 30 quintals this year.
Cultivation of ajwain has many advantages. First, it does not require much water and is suitable for rain-fed areas.
According to Jalji, it requires as much water as red gram does. Second, it demands fewer labour.
Jalji himself handles the entire five acres throughout the season except during the harvest season. He employs only four workers for harvesting his five acres of ajwain. Third, the crop has a distinct smell and is bitter in taste and cattle or sheep don’t like it. Thus, the crop is self-protected from stray animals.
“Setting out for experiment in carom seeds cultivation on my five acres five years ago was like swimming against the tide. Today, the picture is, however, totally different. My success has indeed inspired many farmers. Many are visiting my fields and expressing their desire to switch from conventional crop to ajwain cultivation,” he said.