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Sapling shortage hits date palm farming in Barmer

Good income spurred more farmers in the region to take up date cultivation. From 22 hectares in 2009, the area of date farming increased to 200 hectares by 2018; about 100 farmers took up date cultivation in the region.

jaipur Updated: Feb 26, 2019 15:40 IST
Mukesh Mathrani
Mukesh Mathrani
Hindustan Times, Barmer
date palm farming in barmer,date palm saplings,rajasthan
Farmers in Barmer region started experimenting with date farming in 2009. Initially 11 farmers grew the fruit crop on 22 hectares in Barmer; in 2013 they got the first crop.(HT Photo )

Lack of adequate saplings and no hike in subsidy have affected date palm farming in western Rajasthan, said farmers who had reaped a good harvest of the fruit crop over the past decade.

Farmers of the desert region started experimenting with date farming in 2009. Initially 11 farmers grew the fruit crop on 22 hectares in Barmer; in 2013 they got the first crop. A good response from the market led to an increase in their income. “I sold date crop in 2013 and earned a profit of Rs 4 lakh in the first year itself,” said Sadularam, a farmer in Barmer.

Good income spurred more farmers in the region to take up date cultivation. From 22 hectares in 2009, the area of date farming increased to 200 hectares by 2018; about 100 farmers took up date cultivation in the region.

But, now many farmers say they are facing difficulties in date cultivation because of government apathy. Hemraj Choudhary, a local farmer, said, “Many farmers like me are interested in date farming but we are not getting saplings. I approached officials of the agricultural department many times for saplings but failed.”

Babulal Ranawat, a supervisor at the agricultural department in Barmer, said, “Considering the good response from the market, a large number of farmers are interested in date farming but they are not getting saplings.”

Ranawat said they targeted to sow dates on 60 hectares this year but could do it on only two hectares. “A similar situation was there last year. We planned to grow dates on 20 hectares but could do it on 10 hectares due to insufficient saplings.”

Ranawat said the state government inked an MoU with M/s Atul Ltd, Jodhpur, to prepare date saplings. “The firm is not able to provide adequate saplings on time, which is affecting date farming.”

Though the BJP government at the Centre had promised to double the farmers’ income and the state government has taken steps to address farm distress, profitable date farming is facing apathy.

Pradeep Pagariya, a scientist at the Krishi Vigyan Kendra in Barmer, said the government is providing a subsidy of Rs 1950 per sapling to promote date farming. “Earlier one date sapling was costing Rs 3000 and now its cost has increased to Rs 5000. Despite increased cost, the government has not hiked subsidy, due to which date farming has become costly,” Pagariya said. “If the government considers hiking subsidy and ensures availability of saplings, farming of dates will be a boon for desert farmers.”

The desert region is producing dates of ‘Barhi’ variety from Iraq and ‘Maidjul’ from Morcco. ‘Barhi’ dates are considered the best; they are also called ‘honey balls’.

First Published: Feb 26, 2019 15:40 IST