Continuing with its vision to double farmers’ income and improve productivity of Red Gram farming, Godrej Agrovet, India’s largest diversified agri-business company, today announced a unique initiative called Mission Red Gram.
India is a major consumer and producer of Red Gram but low productivity has been a major concern for the farmers. One of the reasons for low productivity in Red Gram is attributed to the declining population of the solitary bee due to indiscriminate use of toxic pesticides. Solitary or leaf cutter bee species such as Megachile bee are one of the most efficient natural cross-pollinators of red gram. Scientific studies show a decline in the population of solitary bees directly impacts the yield of red gram.
With Mission Red Gram, Godrej Agrovet is creating awareness among the cultivators of Red Gram about the importance of pollinators in improving the quantity and the quality of produce. The farmers are encouraged to plant sun hemp on peripheries to provide foraging sites for solitary bees and install ‘Bee Hotels’ — a bee nesting site.
As part of Mission Red Gram, Godrej Agrovet will also provide counselling to farmers to adopt best agriculture practices that can improve the productivity of Red Gram (Tur dal) as it is one of the primary sources of protein in the Indian diet (22% protein). During the pilot phase of Mission Red Gram, it was noticed that a combined impact of setting up Bee Hotels (Pollination stage) and right usage of products such as Double (Fertilisation stage) and Gracia (Protection stage) led up to 20% improvement in farm productivity.
Therefore, as part of this initiative, the company aims to reach 50,000 red gram farmers from across India in the next three years. Of this, 15000 farmers will be from Karnataka, which is one of the biggest producers of the crop, to partake in the initiative.
On the initiative, Balram Singh Yadav, Managing Director, Godrej Agrovet Limited, said, “India is the largest producer, biggest consumer and importer, accounting for about 80% of total world’s production and 90% of total world’s consumption of Red Gram. To meet the annual domestic needs of 3.5 million tonne, India imports about 5 lakh tonne of red gram from Myanmar and Africa every year. We, at Godrej Agrovet, have always been committed towards our nation and increasing farmer’s productivity. We are happy to initiate this wonderful mission to improve the productivity of the crop by creating a model of building bee hotels in Karnataka and potentially in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.”
So far, Godrej Agrovet has installed 500 Bee Hotels in over 50 villages in the Gulbarga district and distributed more than 5MT of sun hemp seeds to the growers. Since the last season, farmers have found increased bee activity after sowing Sun Hemp at the peripheries and installation of the Bee Hotel structure. Consequently, it has resulted in increased production and uniformity of red grams which are attractive in colour and have less chaffiness.