A cauliflower weighing 25.5kg!
Jagdish Prasad Parikh (72) of Ajitgarh village in Sikar district of Rajasthan has the distinction of growing this jumbo variety.
A village of 10,000, Ajitgarh is a four-hour ride from Sikar. Here most inhabitants make a living doing farming. Interestingly, it is the ‘gobhiwala’, sobriquet of Parikh who has put Ajitgarh in the map of Indian vegetable growers.
Ajitgarh, the cauliflower variety Parikh developed is unlike the usual cauliflower we buy. Unaffected by warm temperatures, the variety besides being disease-resistant and tolerant to insect attack can be grown thrice in a year.
The septuagenarian farmer-innovator has been growing cauliflowers since 1990 and is the recipient of an IPR (Intellectual Property Rights), awarded in 2017 by the Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers Right Act, for his variety and received the Grassroots Innovation Award, way back in 2001.
“According to the Guinness Book the present record of growing the biggest cauliflower is 27.5kg while my personal achievement has been 25.5kg,” says he. “But one day I hope to enter the Guinness Book too.”
The cauliflower developed by him has entered the Limca Book of Records but one day plans to enter the Guinness Book of World Records. A farmer since 1970, he majorly grows cauliflower as an intercrop on his 2-hectare plot among the fruit trees like pomegranates, lemon, wood apple, karonda (Bengal Currant)and roses—using self-made organic fertilisers and pesticides. As his cauliflowers are very big they are preferred by hotels and restaurants. Last year he sold one quintal worth of cauliflower seeds.
There are scores of farmers, like Parikh who have been relying on their ingenuity to develop a variety which besides being high yielding, is pest-resistant and even can be grown in non-traditional environment. These innovations by farmer-innovators, who hold IPR for their interventions, are shining examples at the grassroots level providing livelihood security, leading to crop improvement, assuring food and nutritional security, bettering production technologies and importantly providing environment security.
Born in 1947 in a Brahmin family, Parikh has pursued several professions before taking up farming as a full time profession. Adopted by his maternal uncle he studied till the higher secondary level and worked for few years in a government undertaking in the oil sector at Assam. Ultimately, he quit his job and bean farming on the field owned by his maternal uncle. Beside cauliflower he has the credit for growing six ft. long ridge gourd, three ft. long brinjal, seven ft. long bottle gourd and 86 kg pumpkin.
His interest in cauliflower was piqued in 1970 when he visited Char Darwaja area in Jaipur and came across some saplings of the same in a farm, which seemed very different. Having borrowed some saplings he planted them in his fields closer to a well. The fruits were white in colour and bigger than normal. He let them mature and develop seeds. For some 25 years his selective breeding continued ultimately yielding him one weighing around 25.5 kg!
In 1999, he grew 61 tons of cauliflower on the 1.2 hectare land and gave away seeds to his fellow farmers. “This variety is more resistant to diseases as compared to other hybrid varieties,” claims Parikh
The Ajitgarh cauliflower variety can be grown round-the- year, according to plant breeder and farmer Sundaram Varma, famed for developing a novel variety of chilli, called Danta which is grown in the arid region.
Parikh uses organic manure for his cauliflower crop which he makes it on his own. Having made a pit measuring of 10x7x3 cu ft he spreads a 10cm thick layer of grass stubbles, leftover animal fodder and 25 cm thick layer of cow dung. It is followed by a layer of around 10 cm of finely-cut neem and ‘aakdo’ (Calotropis gigantean) leaves. Further, layers of cow dung and neem leaves are repeated and when the pit looks full 40lts of tap water is poured. Every fortnight the pit is stirred and its contents are turned upside down. After three months the manure is ready.
How does one grow Ajitgrah Cauliflowers?
- Saplings at least three inches in height are ready for the fields after 20-22 days in the nursery
- Avoid planting the long-stemmed one for they are unable to take the flower’s weight.
- Care need to be taken regarding plant spacing.
- Watering to be done every third day before transferring from nursery and thereafter every fifth day. Water the plants only when leaves show sign of dryness.
- Cauliflower is infested with mosaic virus, which severely affects leaves of the cauliflower. To control the virus use 100g copper sulphate, 400g ash and 100g lime and spread it on the field by a blow pipe. About 1.5kg of this mixture is sufficient for dusting over a hectare of crop.
- Formation of black spots on the flowers due to cloudy weather and dew can be avoided by covering the fruit by using its leaves.
You can contact Jagdish Parikh at 91-9950323338