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Wasteland into mango basket

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By SANTOSH K. KIRO
  • Published 17.05.11
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Ranchi, May 16: The king of fruits has finally conquered Lohardaga, Latehar, Gumla and West Singhbhum.

For the first time this year, mango trees planted by the state government under National Horticulture Mission (NHM) have borne a large number of fruits, promising a bumper crop. Most of the 4,000 beneficiaries are tribal farmers, including those from primitive tribes.

The state agriculture department had started plantation of fruit trees from 2005-06 under the national horticulture mission in Jharkhand through Vikas Bharati Bishunpur. Mango variants included Mallika, usually found on Gangetic plains, Amrapali and Langra.

Each hectare of the earmarked areas in the four districts, especially waste and hilly tracts, were dotted with 100 saplings.

Now, nearly half of over 44.5 lakh mango trees planted by the state government across 4,450 hectares in the four districts through implementing agency Vikas Bharti Bishunpur are heavy with fruits.

Even last summer, only a few of these trees had borne fruits, as they were not yet ready.

“Each of my mango trees has borne at least 10 kg of fruits this year. Last year, only a few of my mango trees bore fruits and had given me an earning of Rs 5,000. This year, my earnings will go upto Rs 35,000 or even more,” said Bande Oraon, a farmer of Malartoli village of Gumla district, who received 260 saplings for his 2.5 hectares under the horticulture mission, and who was among the first batch of beneficiaries.

The sweet fruits of success allow everyone, from farmers to experts and ministers feel self-congratulatory.

“Jharkhand’s soil and weather greatly suit horticulture. The good results of the horticulture mission have started showing,” said the state’s agriculture minister, Satyanand Jha, who visited Lohardaga and Gumla in January to see for himself the success of the horticulture mission.

“Six years ago, I really didn’t believe that my wasteland could give me wealth. I expect to earn about Rs 25,000 from my mango trees planted under the horticulture mission,” said Bitan Birjia, a primitive tribe farmer in Mahuadarn village of Latehar district.

For implementing agency Vikas Bharti Bishunpur, success is sweeter as they can to fight and change farmer mindsets.

“Initially, farmers were sceptical about the feasibility of the programme. But now, after seeing their wasteland getting transformed into mango orchards, they have understood the value of horticulture,” said K.K. Pandey, joint secretary of Vikas Bharti Bishunpur, also the in-charge of the plantation programme.

Jharkhand’s topography and climate allows fruit bearing trees such as mango, litchi, Indian gooseberry (amla), and pear, among others, to grow naturally. The fruit salad revolution in the state has perhaps just begun.