IT-trained Yadav takes to dragon fruit cultivation


BY DHIRENDRA PRASAD SAH,Janakpurdham, May 27: Sushma Yadav from Lakshmipur of Rupani Rural Municipality-4 in Saptari district has chosen commercial farming even after completing an overseer course in Computer Science. Despite having the qualifications to easily secure a job in the government or semi-government sector, she chose not to pursue a job.

Decades ago, women from the Madhes region had to remain veiled and stay indoors. The practice of educating women was minimal. However, changes have been noticed in such practices. Women have become self-reliant due to increasing awareness about negative social practices.

At present, Yadav represents many women who are educated, employed and self-reliant. She has become an inspiration to many others by becoming financially independent through commercial dragon fruit farming on the field in front of her house.

She started commercial dragon fruit farming on about 10 katthas of land in 2021. Of this, she had taken six katthas of land on lease. She earns more than Rs. 100,000 per katha annually. After deducting the expenses, she makes around Rs. 700,000 to Rs. 800,000 per year. 

She got her business registered in the name of RB Agriculture Farm in 2020/21 and has invested around Rs. 1.5 million so far. 

Yadav grew interest in dragon fruit farming by watching videos on You Tube. Later, she visited an agricultural farm in Tarahara, Sunsari, to learn about dragon fruit farming and started farming by planting 2,000 saplings of red variety of dragon fruit brought from India and around 200-300 saplings brought from Tarahara, Nepal. 

According to Yadav, dragon fruit farming is a single investment farming that produces fruit for 20 years. She said, "It takes two years for the dragon fruit plants to mature and with proper care and application of fertilizers, they yield over Rs. 100,000 per kattha annually." She informed that the plants produce fruit from April to November, for about seven months. 

Since the production last year, Yadav has sold 20 quintals of dragon fruit. She said that there was no difficulty in selling the fruit as fruit wholesalers and retailers came to pick the fruit at the farm. The fruit is sold at Rs. 400 per kg to retailers and Rs. 350 per kg to wholesalers. 

Dragon fruit plants are grown on concrete poles about five feet high, with motorcycle tyres or concrete rings to support the plants, which hang down to bear the fruit. Since the distance between the poles is eight feet and between rows is 10-12 feet, it allows farmers the cultivation of turmeric, garlic, onions, greens and other small plants in those gaps. Yadav has also been cultivating additional small plants in the farm which has helped her generate additional income.

Meanwhile, Yadav expresses sadness over the misuse of agricultural grants. She said that it was difficult to receive subsidies without involving middlemen. After many attempts, she was able to get a subsidy of Rs. 200,000 and a power tractor at 50 per cent discount from the Agricultural Knowledge Centre, Saptari.

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