Ahmednagar District is being rainfed, farmers have little option but to grow only rainfed crops like Bajra and Jowar or to keep the land fallow in the Rabi and summer. The Krishi Vigyan Kendra, realizing the water scarcity, implemented a crop diversification programme for the farmers in the dryland area with prime focus on dryland crop like drumstick. The fruit of local cultivar was short with less pulp and had wide variations in thevarietal characteristics with respect tocolor, quality and taste parameters. The yields of local cultivar varied from 30-32 q/ha fetching a price between Rs. 400-600 per quintal. The KVK took initiative and procured the high yielding drumstick variety PKM-1 from TNAU, Coimbatore. The crop was best suited for rainfed situations and could sustain the yields for 5 to 6 years. Initially KVK planted the drumstick crop on KVK demonstration farm on one acre with the new variety. The plot started giving yield from six months onward. As the variety gives two flowering flushes in a year with high quality pods, it is accepted by farmers as well as consumers. The crop thrives well in rainfed areas and also has low input requirement. Based on the location specific assessments, the KVK has developed suitable pruning techniques for maximizing yield of drumstick pods every year. KVK made available the seeds and seedlings. Wide extension and publicity was given about the variety. With the availability of seeds and technology it was possible to make a large-scale dissemination of the drumstick production technology not only within the district but also in the other parts of the state. The farmers could reap net monetary benefit ranging from 55,000/- to 61,000/- per hectare in the dryland pockets with yields averaging between 72 to 80 q/ha. Some of the progressive farmers have registered yields as high as 110 q/ha. The high yielding drumstick has registered highest economic gain and net income and also high B:C ratio as compared to the other crops. The B:C ratio in conventional crops like bajra, jowar,mothbean, mungbean and local drumstick varies from 1.20 to 1.55 while the high yielding drumstick cultivation gives an average B:C ratio of 2.33. The farmers have been getting incomes from two crops during the kharif and rabi season with the help of Dryland crop like drumstick cultivation. The drumstick seed and seedling supply has facilitated as a key promoter and insurer of livelihood security under rainfed tracts by providing additional income from drumstick pods sale.
The KVK thus become a prime source of technology and inputs for drumstick cultivation in the State of Maharashtra with the estimated farmer beneficiaries of more than 18,600 due to training, seminars, sale of seeds and seedlings, consultancy and advisory services. The KVK was able to disseminate the technology of drumstick cultivation to 31 districts of the Maharashtra state covering 2510 direct beneficiaries who have availed the technology either through seed, seedling or advisory with maximum area in Ahmednagar district covering more than 1187.50 ha directly through KVK’s intervention and over 4822.20 ha through direct and indirect or horizontal spread of KVK’s technology. The adoption of drumstick cultivation has also spread to other states like Gujarat and Karnataka. One NGO from Jalgaon has also distributed lakhs of seedlings in the tribal area of Jalgaon District and also helped in further disseminating drumstick plantation through the women SHGs.
The KVK was able to extend marketing support to the drumstick growers by providing market rates of drumstick from different market places of Mumbai, Gujarat, Bangalore and Chennai. Farmers especially from Ahmednagar, Nasik and Satara districts have formed close networks of drumstick producers that are able to supply large scale drumstick pods to more lucrative markets of Mumbai, Gujarat and export markets like Gulf countries and Singapore. KVK has prepared an informative CD covering technical aspects of drumstick cultivation usingimproved methods. KVK has printed more than 20,000 folders on drumstick production for the information of farmers.