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.
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.
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.