One promising way for the farmers to break out of the poverty trap is a move towards horticulture. High value crops like pomegranates have the additional advantage of low water requirement. This alternative is therefore found attractive by an increasing number of small farmers in dry areas. Also, horticulture generally involves labor intensive cultivation practices resulting in the generation of local employment that benefits landless labour in the surrounding area.
However, typically horticulture crops tend to be both knowledge and input intensive. The extension services of the state are in a poor state and have little ability to respond to the immediate needs of small farmers. Against this back drop we have been taking up series of workshops for the pomegranate growing farmers in - Satana tehsil in Nashik , Sangamner in Ahmednagar and Mohol in Solapur.
In a three year project, with technology transfer, it was possible to increase productivity and quality while reducing the cost of production by optimising resource use. While farmers were given exposure of all types of technology, they opted for a wise and judicious mix of organic and inorganic which led to the desired results and also nurturing their natural resource base.