Growing ber in Barabanki
Some farmers in Barabanki district, Uttar Pradesh are finding out that they can grow varieties of ber on land that was till lately found to be unfit for cultivation, and rake in good profits. Here's a ground report on a farmer named Abhishesk Dheeraj Singh's successful experiment.
Virendra Singh 6 Feb 2023 10:03 AM GMT
Before 2021, Abhishesk Dheeraj Singh, a 40-year-old farmer in Baisan Purwa village in Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh was resigned to leaving his 30 hectares of land untended after he had harvested the paddy in May-June.
“After the harvest, my land was fallow and nothing else would grow on it,” Singh told Gaon Connection.
A visit to Rajasthan in 2021, gave Singh an idea. “There I saw a variety of ber (jujube) fruit being cultivated on land that was very similar to mine. I returned home, got the soil on my land tested and found it had the same pH balance as the soil on the Rajasthan land,” he recalled.
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“This was good news. I consulted some agriculture scientists in my area and decided to cultivate ber,” he added.
The farmer has been cultivating the ber for a year now. “Each plant is producing 10 kgs to 15 kgs of fruit. And, I learnt that each plant, one it assumes its full size in 15 years, can yield up to 150 kgs. Bers continue to fruit for 35 years,’ Singh explained.
He had ordered the ber saplings from Kolkata at Rs 50 per plant. The total cost of cultivation is around Rs 1,000,000 while he makes an annual profit of Rs 2,000,000 to Rs 2,500,000, he said.
Unutilised barren lands limit agricultural potential
“If the number of such farmers cultivating fruits like Thai apple ber, apple ber, and sundari apple ber increase in numbers, we will plan out a programme to support them financially,” Ganesh Chandra Mishra, the district horticulture officer in Barabanki, told Gaon Connection. According to him in some states their governments provide financial support to farmers growing crops like jujube but not so in Uttar Pradesh, so far.
Meanwhile, many farmers in Barabanki are keen to experiment with cultivating the jujube fruit on lands that lay fallow.
Abhishek Singh’s success inspired Mukul Gupta, to begin ber cultivation too.
“I am arranging for funds to buy these plants and will soon start on a small scale,” Gupta, Ray Shyampur village, told Gaon Connection.
Sanjay Arora, chief scientist at the Hardoi-based Krishi Vigyan Kendra, speaks about why land becomes barren and how it can be fixed —
Some lands are barren by nature.
Their mineral composition makes them unfit for cultivation. Excessive sodium content in the rocks in the area can make the soil infertile.
Excessive irrigation also makes the soil infertile. When the water evaporates, it leaves behind a concentration of minerals in the soil that also renders the soil unsuitable for cultivation.
Using gypsum in the soil can correct its composition and make it fit for cultivation. Farmers can use the Gypcal mobile phone application. The farmers can get a pH test of their soils and enter the figure on the application. They will get information on how much gypsum that particular land needs.
Submerge the fields with water and flush out the water every 2-3 days. This is a long drawn process and it takes years for the land to regain its fertility