Groundnut cultivation improves incomes for tribal farmers in India

Women tribal farmer harvesting groundnut in her field. Photo: Sangeeta Takkele, ICRISAT

Women tribal farmer harvesting groundnut in her field. Photo: Sangeeta Takkele, ICRISAT

Tribal farmers in Andhra Pradesh, India, have for the first time cultivated groundnut on their lands, leading to improved incomes. They earned about ₹ 87,500 (US$1,291) to ₹ 125,000 (US$1,845) per ha while they spent on an average ₹ 8,000 (US$117) to ₹ 10,000 (US$147). With technical inputs and training under the Rythu Kosam project of the Government of Andhra Pradesh, these farmers successfully produced foundation seeds from the breeder seeds of improved groundnut varieties provided by ICRISAT.

Seven villages were chosen as part of the pilot project and at least 30 farmers identified in each village. A farmer from Lakkonda village, East Godavari district, was extremely pleased with the outcome and said that he and his wife could earn ₹ 40,000 within three months by cultivating the groundnut variety provided by ICRISAT. “We spent only on seeds and did not hire any worker during the cultivation,” he pointed out. He said more and more farmers in his area were showing interest in groundnut cultivation.

Village: Yarlagadda
Major crops:
Rainy (cotton, tapioca, cashew and mango); Post rainy (maize 10%  fallow 90%)
Irrigation source: Small creek
Soil: Red sandy soil Yarlagadda village, though not one of the project villages, was found to be ideal for piloting the rabi groundnut, as they have an irrigation source, ideal soil type and farmers interested in cultivating groundnut – for the first time – in their land.About 13 ha land, belonging to 15 farmers, was brought under groundnut cultivation. The farmers were given 2 tons of breeder seed (K6 and K9 varieties obtained from Agriculture Research Station, Kadiri) and they obtained a yield of 25 tons of foundation seeds.The crop cutting experiments conducted by ICRISAT showed that the crop productivity in these fields varied from 1.9 to 2.4 tons per ha for K9 and from 2 to 3.2 tons per ha for K6 variety, which is nearly twice the average productivity of Anantapur district. ICRISAT helped the farmers register with the AP Seed Certification Agency, who monitored and certified the foundation seed upon harvest. The foundation seeds were procured by the AP Seed Cooperation Ltd at a rate 20% higher than the market rate. While the farmers could obtain ₹ 45-50 per kg in the market,the AP Seed Cooperation Ltd., bought the seeds at₹ 60 per kg. Kadabala Bobbili, a tribal farmer who had taken up cultivation in two acres with K6 variety is very happy as he obtained very high yield in this season. He said, “I was able to get more than two tons with K6 variety.” He added that he would preserve some of the foundation seed for the next season. He expressed happiness that he could get high yield with this variety without investing in irrigation. An important aspect to note is that 90% of the tribal farmers follow tradition cultivation methods and do not apply any fertilizers in their fields.

Located in a rainfed region, the smallholder farmers with just 1 to 2 ha land, cultivate cotton, tapioca, cashew, mango and some vegetable crops, depending on rains and seasonal streams for irrigation. During rabi (post rainy) 90% of the farms are fallow due to lack of irrigation. The region receives an average annual rainfall of 1200 mm and it varies from 770 mm to 1850 mm. The soil is red clayey type. Most farmers here follow traditional cultivation practices and do not apply fertilizers. Pesticides are used only when the pest attack is serious. Major constraints include low productivity, low income and low resource use efficiency along with low seed replacement rate for agriculture and horticulture crops.

Tribal farmers with their yield of groundnut foundation seed. Photo: Rajesh Nune, ICRISAT

Tribal farmers with their yield of groundnut foundation seed. Photo: Rajesh Nune, ICRISAT

For piloting groundnut varieties 10 to 15 progressive farmers were identified from 2 villages, Rajampalem and Lakkonda, and improved groundnut variety breeder seeds sown in 5 ha area. These were improved groundnut varieties, ICGV 91114, ICGV 0351 and ICGV 0350 with a duration of 95-120 days. In this short period, the farmers obtained high yields (2 to 4 tons per ha) for ICGV 91114 variety, 5 tons per ha for ICGV 350 variety and 4-5 tons per ha for ICGV 351 variety. Farmers retained some for their use and sold the rest of the seeds to other farmers in the neighboring villages.

Finger millet was grown in 2 ha while pigeonpea was grown in 15 ha area. Pigeonpea varieties, ICPH 2740, ICP 8863 (Maruti), ICPL 87119 (Asha) and ICPL 161 with varying crop duration between 135-180 days were distributed to farmers.

Following the baseline survey and soil testing some of the interventions undertaken were: soil-test based micronutrient application for all crops; improved seed/varietal replacement with machine transplantation (PPP mode); crop diversification with pigeonpea, groundnut and finger millet; Broad-Bed Furrow method introduced to improve soil moisture; integrated pest management; kitchen garden and aerobic composting; and Gliricidia plantation.

Project: Transforming Agriculture and Allied Sectors through the Primary Sector Mission - RYTHU KOSAM Investor: Government of Andhra Pradesh Partners: Government of Andhra Pradesh, Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University, Dr YSR Horticultural University, Sri Venkateswara Veterinary University, private industries such as KUBOTA India, Mahindra and Mahindra, John Deere, Science for Society, Jain Irrigations, etc. national and international agricultural research institutes and ICRISAT.

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