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Record pumpkin cultivation in Nalbari district
Ramen Kalita

Harvested pumpkins at the Sankardev Jaibik Krishi Pam in Nalbari district. – Photo: Nalbari Correspondent
 NALBARI, Nov 25 - The massive production of pumpkins has played a vital role in bringing about green revolution in Nalbari district and strengthening the economic condition of the farmers.

The farmers of Balitara and adjoining villages of the district who have been commercially growing pumpkins have made good profits. At present, around 1500 farmers have taken up pumpkin cultivation as their livelihood and around 700 hectares of land are under pumpkin cultivation in the district.

The dry river bank areas of the mighty Pagladia river have now become a fertile ground for pumpkin production. The farmers of Nalbari district have advanced the cultivation time to July-August from the normal planting time of October-November to get more profits with surplus production. Nalbari district is situated in the lower stream of the Pagladia river where agriculture is the backbone of rural economy and the only livelihood of the farm families.

When farmers are not getting proper remuneration for their products, the farmers of Balitara, Chengnoi and some adjoining villages have created records of sorts by earning money through the production of pumpkin, particularly the Arjuna variety. It needs no mention that pumpkin is a very popular vegetable among the farmers and is mainly cultivated in the rabi season. However, in light soils (river bank areas) growing of pumpkins in the rabi season is difficult as soil moisture levels become very low due to low water-holding capacity. The pumpkin cultivation in the off-season during July-August on the river bank helps farmers in reducing irrigation cost drastically. Besides, early planting also helps in getting a good market price as market demand at that time remains high due to scarcity of other vegetables. It is found that the July-August planted pumpkin gives an average return of Rs 2,25,000 against the investment cost of Rs 45,000 per hectare. According to the farmers, pumpkin is sold from the farmer’s field at Rs 1,700-Rs 2,000 per quintal. The Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Nalbari and the District Agriculture Office, Nalbari have been providing necessary technical guidance and support to the farmers.

Two leading agri farms namely Sankardev Jaibik Krishi Farm and Jyoti Farmers Club are the torch bearers of the pumpkin revolution the district. It is very much an encouraging story for the farmer community in the State that vendors from neighbouring districts and even States are lifting pumpkins by the truckloads.The pumpkins of the district are being exported to countries like Bhutan and Bangladesh also. The chief scientist of Nalbari KVK, Dr Mridul Deka said that Nalbari district is now becoming the pumpkin hub of the region especially for the off-season pumpkin production. As an outcome of successful pumpkin cultivation, a farmer producers’ company named Pagladia Agro Organic Producer Company has been formed under the Mission Organic Value Chain Development, Department of Horticulture and Food Processing, Government of Assam. A total of 500 farmers have registered themselves with this company.

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