A stranger to a rubber plantation at Kedila village in Bantwal taluk may confuse vastly spread creepers there to some wild weed. A closer look shows hundreds of ash gourds hidden underneath the leaves of creepers.
O.K. Sham Prasad, an agriculturist at Punjathodi in the village, has cultivated ash gourd as an inter-crop in his rubber plantation. Such cultivation in two acres of land is said to be rare in Dakshina Kannada. According to him, he harvested about 15,000 kg of white (ash) gourd a few days ago from 1,250 creepers planted this July. “I expect the yield between 15,000 kg and 20,000 kg,” he said.
The gourd grown by Mr. Prasad is small “kashi kumbla” variety and is not large in size. He said people preferred small-sized gourds as they were easy to carry home.
Mr. Prasad has stocked the harvested produce hoping for a better price. “The maximum price quoted by a trader is Rs. 9.50 a kg,” he said.
He said that the gourd would fetch him additional income and it could be harvested in four months after planting. As the ash gourd had long shelf-life there was no need to sell it in a hurry.
Mr. Prasad has also cultivated “suvarna gadde” (elephant foot yam). He planted 450 saplings of yam in April-May 2011. Yam can be harvested after six months of planting. Usually, a yam weighed 13 kg after six months. It would have a shelf-life of three months. This year, its price varied from Rs. 14 to Rs. 25 a kg, he said.
This farmer is yet to harvest the yam planted last year. “There is no hurry. After two years of planting, a yam usually weighs 20 kg. Sometimes its price touches Rs. 45 a kg. It can be harvested when the price is attractive,” he said.
Mr. Prasad said if farmers cultivated elephant foot yam and ash gourd there was no pressure on them to sell them immediately unlike other vegetables which did not have shelf-life.
In addition, Mr. Prasad has cultivated 600 nendran banana variety which can be harvested in nine months.
Ash gourd will fetch additional income and can be harvested in four months