900 Plants & 8 tonnes of Mangoes from an Acre. Miraj Farmer Does It

With ‘bliss’ in your name, it’s hardly unexpected for someone to say: I’m blessed to be a farmer. Moreso in a State which has witnessed high incidences of suicides of farmers in the country.

However, sixty-one-year-old Parmanand Gavane has overriding reasons to feel blessed. First, his experiment with an ultra-high-density plantation (UHDP) has been successful and secondly, he is able to share his experiences with wannabe mango growers visiting his farm in Belanki, a village 25 km from Miraj town in Sangli district. His popularity has spread thanks to the several write-ups in newspapers and the YouTube videos.

As I caught up with this celebrity mango grower on a July noon, he told me that he has harvested eight tonnes of the fruit from an acre of the Kesar variety, weighing 250g to 400g, which has been picked by buyers from Delhi, Hyderabad,Kolkata, Bangalore and Raipur.

Madhanand with freshly harvested Kesar mangoes

From three tonnes in 2015, his maiden harvest, to 7.5 tonnes in 2020 Gavane believes that with proper management of the orchards he can achieve 10 tonnes per acre!

Instructing his farmhands on making rings around the trunks of the trees for fertilizer application, he says, “I’ve sold 4000 petis totalling 16 tonnes.”

Traditionally a grape grower, Gavane having seen a farmer in Lingnur village follow the high-density plantation planted 900 saplings each on two acres in 2012.

 “Initially, the farmer showed me around his orchard but later refused me entry despite several entreaties,” says Gavane. “I realised then that I was on my own and decided if I ever become successful  I will keep my orchard open to all and share my experiences too.”

Each month he receives close to 50 farmers and this year he has already notched 2,000 despite the pandemic. In the months of May and June when the trees are heavy with fruits the number of visitors peak.

Kesar mangoes hanging from a tree

Gavane’s is a rare case because most UHDPs in India do not go beyond 700 trees, compared to the traditional technique of 40 trees per acre. UHDP has been practised since long in Israel and South Africa and is now being followed by a handful of daring and enterprising farmers, of them Gavane is a shining example.

UHDP can yield up to 200% more crop than the traditional method of cultivation; ensures a uniform shape and colour of the fruit while maintaining its flavour and freshness; the tree is not allowed to grow beyond 7 feet in height by regularly pruning it, and leads to mango orchards attaining their full potential in 3-4 years which  is in contrast to the 7-8 years taken by traditional methods of cultivation.

According to Gavane the method, while improving per acre productivity, simultaneously reduces the usage of water. This leads to optimal use of Gavane arrives in his orchard early morning with a copy of much-thumbed Dāsbodh only to return home at sunset.

Dāsbodh, loosely meaning “advice to the disciple” in Marathi, is a 17th-century Advaita Vedanta spiritual text. Orally narrated by saint Samarth Ramdas to his disciple, Kalyan Swami it’s a sort of a tutorial  providing readers with spiritual guidance on matters such as devotion and acquiring knowledge.  “I browse through it whenever I’m idle and alone. The book provides me with guidance on my spiritual journey,” he informs.

Monsoon is a month-old and the ground I wet too and the air is cool too. The mangoes trees planted in neat rows with the black-coloured drip pipes snaking all around. “I administer a mix of organic and chemical fertiliser, 70 and 30 per cent respectively including a the use of a fungicide which inhibits growth but hastens flowering,” he volunteers.”In this method, fertilizer intake is very high.”

Gavane spends close to Rs 100,000 per acre which includes fertiliser and labour costs ending up with a profit of Rs 600,000 per acre.

This system warrants adoption of certain important technologies like formative pruning in the initial years so as to have desirable plant architecture, proper canopy management annually to encourage vegetative growth immediately after harvest, stopping of the vegetative growth during September to favour fruit bud initiation and differentiation.

Adoption of drip irrigation system in order to replenish the loss of moisture and providing nutrients with required quantity at appropriate doses through fertigation technique are highly essential to get a higher yield with quality fruits.

Saplings in the nursery

A year after the plantation he harvested three tonnes of the fruit which has slowly risen to eight tonnes per acre. According to Gavane several farmers in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are following his pattern and are spread in 200 acres.

Besides Kesar he has few of Rumani, picked from Karnataka and grown for making pickles, Benishan and the purple beauty which a friend gifted. “Tommy Atkins of Florida (US) which a nursery owner has shared. It’s very sweet,” he says.

Assisted by his sons, Shivanand, a Civil Engineer who quit his job in a Kirloskarwadi-based firm and Madhavanand, an Arts Graduate Gavane continues to grow the Sonaka and SS varieties of grapes on nine acres and also runs a plant nursery. “I sell around 40,000 saplings of Kesar every year,” he concludes.

Tommy Atkins growing in Gavane’s orchard

Reach Gavane on +91 74482 31351

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2 thoughts on “900 Plants & 8 tonnes of Mangoes from an Acre. Miraj Farmer Does It

  1. Venu Babu Pentyala

    Just seeing them itself is a mouth watering experience. Yes, it makes sense to prune and induce them into flowering. Most likely the plants when faced with severe stress can get into reproductive phase to finish the life cycle. It appears the phenomenon is used to let them bear fruit and at the same time give fertilisers to improve yield. Seems there are s scientific basis for the cultural practice.

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