Engineer turned farmer grows exotic vegetables in polyhouse. Finds European cucumber profitable
“I never follow the rat race! I do something different from others in my contact! I did studied engineering but I was not ready for the fast life in cities. As I had 6 acre ancestral farmland in Nimgaon Jali village, Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra so I decided to become a farmer. It is been three years now I am into full time farming. It had been a great learning experience and extremely interesting,” asserts Mr. Atul Jondhle. He grows exotic vegetables in polyhouse developed on 0.5 acre land while in the remaining area sugarcane is cultivated using chemical farming inputs. Sugarcane harvested is usually 300 ton, sold to the sugar factory. Mr. Jondhle talks in detail about cultivation in polyhouse, growing cucumber and future plans to become an organic farmer. Excerpts:
When I started with farming I learnt Gujarat state government and central government gives subsidy of 45% and 50% respectively to farmers for polyhouse cultivation. It was quite alluring! Further as no other farmer in my region was doing ployhouse farming I decided to take it up. With the investment of Rs. 20 lakh manually operated polyhouse was developed. I got Rs. 8.5 lakh as subsidy. As farmers in Gujarat were growing coloured capsicum so being new to this business I cultivated capsicum.
Usually for capsicum red soil is recommended but I had black cotton soil. Practically it was not possible to replace black soil, further as compost was good in black soil I was able to get good yield of capsicum. Seeing my success other farmers too started farming in polyhouse. Now there are 70 polyhouses in my village in the span of 2 years. Everyone is growing coloured capsicum and selling in Mumbai Market. Prices have slashed down tremendously with over-supply so I am not going to grow capsicum again!
Mr. Atul Jondhle introduced polyhouse cultivation in his village Finds over-supply of coloured capsicum thus starts growing European cucumber Aspires to cultivate vegetables without using any chemical based agri inputs Plans to grow betel leaf and export to gulf countries
As I needed a crop change, briefly I grew broccoli but didn’t continue with it either because it doesn’t have good demand in local market! Anything that sells locally should be opted as returns are better because selling in far off markets like Mumbai incurs miscellaneous expenses, bringing down the profits. Therefore I chose to cultivate European cucumber.
European crop is a short duration crop, just three months. Soil is treated with trichoderma and basal (dosage decided after soil testing). I used ‘22414’ variety of European cucumber from Rizwan company. In first cycle I prepared nursery, then transplanted the saplings into polyhouse. Second cycle, I sowed the seeds in polyhouse. Distance between two seeds is maintained as two feet. For fertilizer application, 19-19-19 (N, P, K) 4kgs in 200 litre water is sent through the drip for every 8days which helps in vegetative growth of the plants. 0-52-34 (N, P, K) 3kgs is given one day after the first manure, which increases size of the plant. Lastly 0-0-50 (K) is given to improve the quality and colour. We also give 15 micronutrients too. Irrigation is done through drip system. 3,000 litre water is used for irrigation on alternate day for 0.5acre.
I want to completely switch to organic farming so I am carrying out a pilot study to make cucumber cultivation natural by using dashparni ark etc. It has given good result and I am planning to practice to get better rate and quality. Intercropping with European cucumber is not possible because creeper requires ventilation. The length of creeper is quite long so the total area gets covered.
Cucumber creeper grows upto 27 feet but the polyhouse height is 12 feet so we reverse the creeper by supporting it with GI wire of 10-12guage and after it comes down, we manually tie it to the mesh again to support it for going up. After one month from sowing, we start harvesting cucumber for next two months. On an average yield obtained is 4kgs/creeper.
Entire produce, 15-16 ton gets sold in local village market. I sell it at Rs. 15-20/kg. Production cost is Rs. 1 lakh/cycle while profits earned is Rs. 2 lakh/cycle. So far I have completed two cycles. Post harvest soil is given rest of 15days then once again soil is prepared for the next cultivation. This new season I want to experiment with okra cultivation.
I want to go for natural farming and also want to cultivate Kolkata Pan (betel leaves). It has good market in Gulf countries like Dubai, Saudi Arabia. The selling price of 1 pan is 1 dollar. It also has medicinal properties.
Farming is profitable but there is intense price fluctuation in almost all the agricultural commodities. To find success in agriculture farmer needs to think something new and be conscious of surroundings. Following the herd and selling the produce to middlemen will lower the profits for sure. So to earn good profits farmer have to think and act different!!
Mr. Atul Jondhle
At Post Nimgaon Jali, Sangamner Taluk, Ahmednagar District – 413 714, Maharashtra