It is definitely not 'pea'nuts for farmers in eastern Rajasthan

The spectacular view of lush green fields in the vast tracts of a non-descript village in Bharatpur district proves the immense potential of environmentally sustainable  pea crop, which farmers have started harnessing after being adversely affected by the rising costs of agricultural inputs in traditional farming for a long time.

A farmer in his farm at Kheria Lodha village

The latest initiative taken up in Kheria Lodha village, situated in Rupbas tehsil, bordering Uttar Pradesh, has brought nearly 70 per cent of the rural agricultural land under the pea farming and set off a new trend of prosperity among agriculturists in the largely backward region of eastern Rajasthan.

Evidently, the farmers have realised the significance of leguminous crops
vis-a-vis the availability of water and quality of soil after facing negative conseque­nces of relying too much on the traditional farming, which demanded heavy investments and were low in both productivity and profits. 
 
Under an expert guidance, the farmers in Kheria Lodha selected pea farming about two years ago on the basis of its environmental sustainability, demand in the market and facilities for transport. Projections for heavy demand in the neighbouring towns of Agra and Fatehpur Sikri in Uttar Pradesh and Murena in Madhya Pradesh were made by the local agricultural communities.

Thanks to the sustained efforts of farmers, Kheria Lodha now has earned the distinction of being called Muttur Gaon (pea village) in Bharatpur district and generated an additional income of Rs 12 lakh for farmers during four months of pea crop.

Kheria Lodha village was selected by the corporate social responsibility group, Lupin Human Welfare and Research Foundation, for its all-round development two years ago. The group prepared an action plan for starting self-employment ventures and also tested soil and water of the village to look for better avenues for farmers.

Agricultural experts in consultation with village elders selected pea pods as the item that could bring prosperity to the village and initially provided seeds of improved varieties like AP-1, AP-3 and Azad Jeevan on 50 per cent subsidy to farmers Sardar Singh, Bhagwan Singh, Bharat Singh, Hori Lal and Nek Singh.

As a result of constant advice and guidance during irrigation and harvesting, the farmers were able to earn Rs  20,000 per bigha (approximately one acre) of land. The pea pods grown by them were an instant hit in the markets because of their dark green colour and one-and-a-half times larger size of pea seeds.

LHW&RF Executive Director Sita Ram Gupta said that pea farming has gradually gained acceptance and popularity among agriculturists in the region in view of its remunerative prices and secure irrigation. The trend has spread to a number of villages around Kheria Lodha village, where the foundation is now supplying seeds and fertilisers at 50 per cent subsidy.

The farmers usually sow the pea seeds in the last week of October every year and they start getting the pea pods by December-end. There is a full-blown and rich yield throughout the month of January. Pods are plucked in the evening and transported to the mandis of the neighbouring towns the next day.

Gupta pointed out that the pea crop needs full irrigation for three to four times and is nourished by chemical fertilisers as well as manure. After crop matures in the middle of February, the plants are weeded out and moong is sown in April-middle, which also yields crops worth Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 per bigha of land.

During January, eight to ten tractor-trolleys containing the sacks of pea pods are  supplied every day from Kheria Lodha village to the mandis. However, the farmers sometimes face uncertainty in prices depending on the arrival of the agricultural produce in the market, which has prompted the LHUW&RF to formulate a training programme for farmers for processing of pea seeds.
    
Gupta said a series of agro-processing training camps would be organised
shortly in the neighbouring Kheria Purohit village in collaboration with the Central government and the state Agriculture Department. In addition to the processing methods for green pea seeds, farmers would also be apprised of the packaging techniques to send the produce to big cities and get remunerative prices.

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