Maharashtra: Switch to scientific farming fetches Sangli village bajra yield 3 times the national average | Kolhapur News – Times of India

KOLHAPUR: Lakhs of farmers seasonally migrate in search of work from Maharashtra‘s rainfed districts to the sugar cane-producing districts, primarily because of the low yield of the crops they themselves cultivate.
Now, however, several farmers in Madgyal village of the rainfed Jat tehsil of Sangli district have replaced traditional farming practices with drip irrigation and newer techniques that may help stop the temporary migrations.
In a big success, the farmers have managed to get a bajra (pearl millet) yield that is three times the national average, and more than two times the average in Maharashtra. Group farming, done by around 25 farmers, has yielded 4,300 kg bajra per acre in the village. The national average is just about 1,300kg bajra per acre while the state average is 1,200kg per acre.
Vitthal Babu Chopade, a 48-year-old farmer from Madgyal, said, “I have seen my grandfather and father toil in the fields and still not get a yield enough to even meet our own family’s needs. Now, I have a 2,700 kg yield on a one-acre land. This is three times what we used to get a few years ago. I will be able to make a profit of around Rs 75,000 as bajra has been fetching a good price in the market.”
Manoj Kumar Vetal, Sangli district’s agriculture superintendent, said, “The farmers were asked to give up the traditional practice of bajra cultivation. They were given a hybrid variety of bajra seeds and were trained to check the germination rate of the seeds so that the crops do not fail. The emphasis was on the use of organic manure.”
The farmers said they were taught how drip irrigation helps make judicious use of water. Explaining seed germination, they said they put 100 bajra seeds on a moist gunny sack, which is placed in the dark.
After 72 hours, they check how many seeds have sprouted. The number should be at least 80 to ensure that the crop yield is high.
The focus on bajra is also timely. The Central government recently gave bajra a status upgrade – from a mere coarse cereal to nutri-cereal – because of its rich nutritional value.
In fact, globally, experts are backing greater dietary utilization of nutrient-dense millet. Agriculture expert Dnyaneshwar Wakure said, “The United Nations has declared 2023 the International Year of Millets. The high productivity will not just address the migration issue but it will make more nutritious options available to people. Bajra will be a part of our diet again if the production continues to remain high. The yield of 4,300 kg per acre is a major achievement.”
Bajra is a major kharif crop that will be ready for harvest in three months. The state currently has 5 lakh hectare under bajra cultivation. Production of 4.6 lakh tonne (905 kg per acre) is expected. If the farmers can earn about Rs 75,000 per acre in three months, it may put on hold many migration plans. Season migration has many adverse effects on the farmers’ families. Most affected are the children, who are often forced to drop out of school. Meanwhile, migrant women often opt for hysterectomies to get rid of menstruation pain and work without interruption in the sugar cane fields.
Vetal said the farmers are now being trained in marketing. “Thin crispy bajra bhakri is a much sought-after food in the metro cities. We are going to mechanise the process. Also, gradings will be done based on the size of the grain. The produce will be marketed accordingly in retail malls, where bajra fetches higher prices,” said Vetal.
Rajasthan is India’s largest bajra producer. Given the favourable climatic conditions there, farmers here can afford to rely on local weather to make good yields and do not have to adopt productivity-enhancing methods.

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