Mr Chowdappa, a farmer from Ramkuppam village in southern India, increased yield of bottle gourd by a third by simply planting a grafted variety of the vegetable. The switch to grafted vegetables helped him and over 400 farmers significantly increase income without much effort.
“Last year, I cultivated 1500 seedlings of grafted bottle gourd in half-acre area. Despite the uncongenial weather due to unseasonal heavy rains, the crop growth and vigor was very good. The yield was better than non-grafted varieties. I harvested 20 tons of grafted bottle gourd against 15 tons the regular seedlings would yield,” the farmer Chittoor district said.
At the Centre of Excellence for Vegetables and Flowers in Kuppam, Chittoor, farmers are trained in basics of vegetable grafting of solanaceous crops such as tomato, capsicum, chili and cucurbitaceous crops like bitter gourd, cucumber and snake gourd.
The initiative was taken up by ICRISAT Development Centre (IDC) in collaboration with Department of Horticulture, Andhra Pradesh, the state where Chittoor is, and Heirloom Seedlings and Plants Pvt. Ltd. The initiative aims to double farmers’ income through grafted vegetables.
Public-Private Partnership to double farm incomes through grafting
ICRISAT and its incubating private partner, Heirloom Seedlings, conducted studies for more than three years and screened various rootstock-scion combinations in solanaceous and cucurbitaceous vegetable varieties existing in India. The grafting technique that is being employed was developed by the World Vegetable Center.
As vegetable grafting is an innovative and sustainable approach to address soil-borne diseases, the horticulture department felt necessary to introduce this technology and popularize it among small and marginal vegetable growers in the state. The department is subsidizing farmers’ purchase of seedlings.
IDC provides technical support and trains farmers in growing grafted seedlings along with scaling up and developing the technology. Training focusses on grafting principles and protocols, selection of rootstocks, different types of grafting methods in vegetables and post-grafting protocols to be followed along with agronomical practices.
Farmers cultivating grafted vegetable are reporting yield advantage ranging from 30% to 50% in addition to overcoming biotic and abiotic stresses viz. bacterial wilt, fusarium wilt, nematodes, salinity etc. by using grafted seedlings.
“I received a bumper tomato yield of about 38 tons. The crop has higher longevity than non-grafted plants. Farmers in the region usually harvest around 30 tons per acre from non-grafted tomato seedlings,” said Mr Mohan Reddy from Chowdepalli village, who has 8 hectares (20 acres) and grows tomato, beans and flowers. He cultivated grafted tomato in 1 acre (0.40 ha).
Farmer Damodar Raju narrated, “I received 1000 saplings of grafted chili from the Centre of Excellence. The grafted seedlings gave me 400 kg yield, about 100 kg more than non-grafted chili, from 0.08 ha (0.2 acres). The chilies had better size and color compared to non-grafted variety.”