The rain simply wasn’t falling and farmer Arun Mohan Pote was losing money. His land, located in the village of Dhanora, Hingoli District in Maharashtra, India, was focused on cotton, soybean and wheat.
Rainfall and access to other water sources in this area is a constant challenge for farmers such as him. This means that vegetables, especially in the dry season, can fetch significantly higher prices at the market.
Profitable smallholder farming
But Arun still had no way of watering his crops or how to select which vegetables would grow well under dry conditions.
Everything changed when he teamed up with East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer (EWS-KT), which aims to increase the skills of smallholder farmers to allow them to increase their yields and improve their livelihoods.
EWS-KT’s technical field officer Prakash Lakhade helped Arun learn how to implement drip irrigation on his farm. The two also closely looked into market research and, after much discussion, identified the three best crops to grow during winter, namely:
- Bitter gourd
- Okra, and
- Ridge gourd
They got to work and implemented EWS-KT’s low-cost farming technologies, all of which were quite new to Arun, including:
- Seedling production
- Raised bed preparation
From bitter gourd, Arun saw a 986% return on investment in just one season with a nett profit of over ₹94 000 (Rupees) - about $1 350 USD - on an area of just 0.2 acres.
To put this into perspective, he previously achieved nett profits of around ₹6 000 per one acre of cotton and ₹3 000 for one acre of soybean.
Regarding okra and ridge gourd, he received a net profit for both of over ₹37 000 and an ROI of 436% and 981% respectively.
Delighted with the results, Arun wants to invest some of the profits back into building a large well on his land so that he can grow more during the dry seasons. He remains a “key farmer” for East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer and shares what he has learned with other farmers in his community.
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