Green Desert! This phrase might sound surprising! But a scientist turned farmer has made it sound true in Sikar district of Rajasthan
A desert area in Sikar disrict, which is a part of dark zone, is fast turning into a green zone with jojoba plantations, despite having no water table and no power connection.
The credit for this area turning green goes to scientist-turned-farmer Khetaram Kumawat, who brought a unique and innovative technique to harvest rain water while adopting progressive farming means.
Kumawat retired as deputy GM in ONGC Gujarat and returned to his native village Danta in 2011 with an aim to do something for the people.
He is PhD in chemistry and hence was aware of the fact that the village situated in Sikar district falls under the Dark Zone where there is no water table and hence tubewells cannot be dug for irrigation.
Dark zones meanwhile are areas demarcated by the government where no water table exists due to over exploitation of groundwater.
Kumawat created a pond by spreading a plastic layer on jojoba fields, creating a sloppy layer. Eventually, rain water collected on the plastic sheets went into the pond.
The pond was created with an average length of 27.30m, width of 15.8m and depth of 3.50m, that is a capacity of approx 1,510 cu mt (15,10,000 litres) which is filled with water during the monsoon
The water remains sufficient for irrigation of jojoba garden (1,400 plants) over an area of one hectare of land. This pond also irrigates vegetables in the 1920 square metre polyhouse by drip irrigation system run by Solar power
A solar panel has been installed while a solar motor has been fitted in the pond which helps irrigate the fields and polyhouses.
A jojoba plant can live up to one hundred years.
The oil extracted from its seeds is used for lubrication of ATF, treatment of skin diseases, hair nourishment, cosmetics etc. The seed extracts left after oil extraction is also used for cosmetics and treatment of skin diseases.
The seed sells Rs 400-500 per kg and the oil at Rs 1,500-2,000 per litre. This means that a farmer can earn up to Rs 8-10 lakh by farming jojoba on one hectare of land which can produce over 2 quintals of seeds, says Kumawat said.
Many farmers in the village, inspired by Kumawat’s work, have started creating such ponds while taking up jojoba plantation, which is not affected by temperature fluctuations, can hardly get attacked by pests and hence can create strong opportunities for earning livelihood in the arid villages of Rajasthan, he added.