Akhil Bharatiya Samaj Sewa Sansthan
Vegetable Cultivation as an Alternative Source of Income for Small Farmers in Bundelkhand
Traditionally, Bundelkhand is not known as a major vegetable production region. Cultivation of vegetables for sale in market and generation of income has been restricted to a few locations, such as Newari block of Tikamgarh district, and/or households of certain socioeconomic groups (eg Lodhs) having irrigation facilities, many heads of cattle (and thus FYM), and tradition of cultivating vegetables.
However, there is scope and need for promoting vegetable cultivation as an alternative source of income for small farmers in the Bundelkhand region, for the simple reason that on a per unit of land basis, vegetable cultivation is far more profitable than cultivation of staple crops. Vegetable cultivation will also help improve nutritional status of families, especially women and children.
The prerequisites and challenges of successful vegetable cultivation on a commercial scale are
- Apart from suitable agro-climatic conditions, assured supply of water is required.
- Vegetable cultivation requires more labour and attention than cultivation of staple crops.
- As most vegetables are highly perishable, and have limited shelf life, quick access to market, or to cold storage facilities, is the key factor determining whether a particular location is suitable for vegetable cultivation or not.
Keeping above in mind the above, there is scope for promoting vegetable cultivation as an alternative or even primary source of income for small farmers in particular locations of Bundelkhand.
The Tikamgarh block of Tikamgarh district, MP, is one such area, as (i) agro-climatic conditions are suited for the cultivation of a number of vegetables including brinjal, chilli, tomato, potatoes, garden peas, etc (ii) a large part of the cultivated area is irrigated, mainly through dug wells (iii) most villages in the block are well connected by tar roads to the large markets in Tikamgarh and Sagar towns.
Under its Bundelkhand Rural Poverty Alleviation Model (BRPAM) project (March 2011 to August 2014, and extended), ABSSS decided to leverage these advantages to promote vegetable cultivation, particularly among SC/ST households, who form the target group of the project, and have traditionally not done vegetable cultivation on a commercial scale.