Increases pomegranate yield by pairing with papaya cultivation and maintaining stringent irrigation schedule
“To boost the pomegranate production it is important to follow proper irrigation schedule and grow it along with papaya as the later safeguards the plants from the diseases and pest attack,” shares Mr. Sharanabasava C Hiremath. He hails from Lingasugur village, Raichur district, Karnataka. His farm spreads in 16 acre having papaya and pomegranate both in 6 acre. Plantation was started in 2013.
2500 saplings of pomegranate are transplanted in 6 acre keeping 7 feet distance from row to row and plant to plant 14feet. “I have planted the saplings in zig-zag manner, cross distance is 10 feet and diagonally 14 feet. Zig-zag method is opted because sunlight and air are uniformly obtained by all plants. In the same area, 2500 saplings of papaya are also grown,” he shares. Red lady papaya and Kesar pomegranate variety are grown in the orchard.
“I was doing finance related business but was not enjoying the work then contested the election once and lost! Later I thought my grandfather was a farmer and he did leave behind a proud legacy so even I should try it. Alarmed by many family and friends that agriculture is only money eating profession that could never give good returns I still took it up as challenge thinking of my grandfather. Since then there is no looking back,” Mr. Sharanabasava describes the drive to become a farmer. Prior to setting up papaya and pomegranate orchard he visited many farms to learn intricacies of pomegranate and papaya farming. “I have learnt from the farmers and followed their words sincerely.”
Initially Mr. Sharanabasava planned for banana cultivation but choose pomegranate as the main crop because it suits the climatic conditions of his farms’ location. “The temperature goes upto 42 degrees and it is optimum temperature for pomegranate. Besides, in our region we do not have walk-in customers for banana where as we receive many bulk buyers (traders) for pomegranate hence selling is easy,” he informs.
Papaya was chosen as second crop as it complements pomegranate very well and restricts the attack of virus in the orchard. “It is difficult to maintain pomegranate as mono crop because of various virus attacks. Papaya yields till 5months then the plants are replaced. By this time, pomegranate plants attain 4 feet height and we prune it to escalate the growth of the plant. Next we remove the papaya trees, thus for subsequent 6-8months pomegranate plants get good sunlight and grows well,” he explains.
Mr. Sharanabasava prefers chemical based farming over organic as he grows as per the market demand and trend. “The reason being, in organic farming the fruit size is very small and lacks the shine that attracts the buyers! Further as I do not have desi cows in my farm, buying vermicompost, cow dung and urine costs more than the chemical inputs. Therefore in my farm I have taken a central approach of using equal quantities of chemical and organic input,” he opines.
Pomegranate is highly susceptible to pest and disease. “Commonly pomegranate fruits get affected by diseases such as dots disease (fruits get black dots on the surface), split disease (fruit splits into 3 parts by itself) and gets attacked by pest namely green, yellow or white thrips. Root rot disease is also commonly seen pomegranate plants but my plants are not having this disease,” he elaborates. To protect the plant and fruits from these attacks, monocrotophos, super confidor and neem oil are sprayed. “According to the problem we decide the spray.”
When pomegranate tree is about to blossom a stringent irrigation schedule has to be maintained. In first 3months, irrigation is done on variation like to begin with watering is done for 0.5hour/15 days, then 1hour/30 days, 1.5hours/15 days, 2hours/ 15 days, 2.5hours/15days. Post three months it is the time for adding manure in the soil. “We dig two pits near the pomegranate tree, put 7-8 varieties of manure like cow dung, pig dung, DAP, Magnesium, Potash, Biojene etc. At this time 2.5 hours/day irrigation is done. Approximately after 1.5months we will not water the plants for a week. Post one week, we give water for 8 hours just for one day. Again water is stopped for a week after which just for a day 6 hours continuously irrigation is done. Once more water is stopped for a week, post which for one day 4 hours the plants are watered, then a week gap and 2 hours water for a day, the following week watering is stopped – 0.5 hours in one day irrigation is done. Then after 0.5 hours/day irrigation is maintained continuously till the harvest. Every week we spray pesticides for mites, thrips and other attacks through drips,” he elucidates. The irrigation schedule is followed to assist flowering in the plants. “At the time when we give water for 4hours/hour, each fruit would weigh 250g-950g. By following this schedule we can see blossom and scion at the same time in the trees.”
Speaking of cost-benefit ratio of pomegranate plantation he says, “Our expenditure per plant is Rs.500 and we get 50-60kg fruits/plant presently. These plants are 5year old plants. Every year the yield increases with the age. On an average first year plant gives 8 kg fruit/plant, second year 16 kg and third year 30 kg.”
Production of both the fruits in the orchard is good as scheduled program of fertilizer input, irrigation, pruning etc is done at the farm. Kesar pomegranate has good demand in market. “The first pomegranate harvest was sent to Sri Lanka and second to Tamil Nadu, Coimbatore, Delhi and Mumbai. I get buyers from these places at my farm to make the purchase,” he informs. Pomegranate sale fetches income of approximately Rs. 35-40 lakh annually.
Pomegranates are graded from 150 – 950 gram. “We fix one flat price for pomegranate after checking the rates in Mumbai market. We quote Rs. 10 less than the Mumbai market and transportation has to be buyer’s responsibility. We put only one condition that buyer has to take the fruits of mix grades right from 150 gram to 950 gram,” he highlights. Grades are SSSS – 700-950 gram, SSS weighs 500-700 gram, SS weighs 450-500 gram, S weighs 350 -450 gram, SPL weighs 250-350 gram, A1 weighs 200-250 gram and A2 weighs 150 -200 gram. On an average 200 ton is the papaya production in the orchard. It is sold to the traders from Kolkata, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Mumbai and Bangalore.
Mr. Sharanabasava’s future plan is to expand pomegranate cultivation to another 4 acre. “Farming is profitable only when done diligently. All farmers do not commit suicide or are forever in debts. Take up agriculture willingly accepting all the challenges and believe in yourself instead of listening to the advices/suggestions/opinions on farming from non-farmers!” he signs out.
Mr. Sharanabasava C Hiremath
“Houti House”, Near Sai Temple, Bypass Bengaluru Road, Lingasugur, Taluk and District Raichur – 584 122, Karnataka