Though Ranchi is better known as an important industrial and infrastructure hub, it is also valued for its agricultural wealth. The hilly topography combined with dense forest cover, moderate temperature in the summers with cool winters and average annual rainfall between 1300 – 1500 mm and laterite soil is ideal for a fruit crop based multi-tier system incorporating vegetables, pulses, rare medicinal plants and flowers as intercrop.
The hilly terrain offers several potential areas for watershed development, intensive cropping based on fruit crop and crop diversification. Ranchi is famous for its guava, litchi, mango, strawberry, sapota, custard apple, jackfruit, papaya, bael, brinjal, cabbage, cauliflower, chilli, tomato, peas, beans, carnation, gerbera, rose, marigold, Chrysanthemum and spices.
The Allahabad Safeda, L – 49, Arka Mridula, Chittidar, Shwetha, Lalit and some local varieties are grown here by small and marginal farmers between August to February. It is quite common to intercrop guava with jackfruit, mango, cowpea, beans, groundnut, niger, sesame, tomato, chilli, capsicum and flowers.
These days, farmers even grow cash crops like vanilla, rare medicinal and aromatic plants and spices using scientific technology, hybrid seeds and modern method of cultivation to restrict soil and water erosion, achieve higher production and increase their income.
Subsidiary occupations such as making jam, jelly, pickles, squashes, dehydrated slices and others from the annual guava produce has significantly improved the socio-economic conditions of the farmers. Value-added products of Ranchi guava like jelly, toffee, nectar, cordial, syrup, squash, canned juice, powder and slices are now sold in the markets across India.
Both the state and central government have been actively educating the farmers on the importance of soil enrichment and soil water conservation using organic, zero and natural farming techniques and intercropping. These will go a long way in increasing production per hectare and average annual production, replenishing the soil and crop diversification and intensification.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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