Chitrada beera- a foreign exchange earner
It is a vegetable crop raised mainly for its seeds. The vegetable plant species is popular as Chitrada beera (ridge gourd) because it is being extensively cultivated at Chitrada village in Pithapuram mandal for the last several decades.
A vegetable raised just for its seeds
Pithapuram (East Godavari): It is a vegetable crop raised mainly for its seeds. The vegetable plant species is popular as Chitrada beera (ridge gourd) because it is being extensively cultivated at Chitrada village in Pithapuram mandal for the last several decades. The processing of the vegetable seeds is like a cottage industry in the village.
The indigenously developed ridge gourd seeds are exported to the US, United Kingdom, Australia and other countries. About 200 farmer families of Chitrada are engaged in cultivation of ridge gourd and processing of the vegetable seeds. Women take active part in the seed processing. The crop is also cultivated by tenant farmers of Gollaprolu, Kirlampudi, Jaggampeta and other upland mandals.
It needs an investment of Rs 20,000 per acre to raise the crop. The plant starts bearing fruit soon after the offshoot of leaves. Hence, it is also called Yedakula Beera. The crop is left in the fields till it dries up. Later, the produce is taken home by farmers. After drying up the ridge gourd further, the seeds are removed from the vegetable and processed. Farmers and traders visit the village to purchase the vegetable seeds.
The market price of the seeds ranges from Rs 400 to Rs 600 per kg. Each ryot family engaged in processing of the seeds earns an average income of Rs 60,000 per season. The sale of seeds picks up in August. Sowing of the seeds to raise a new crop also takes place at the same time. Chitrada Beera is also popular for its taste. Sale of the ridge gourd as a vegetable is also profitable for farmers as it is much in demand.
Speaking to The Hans India, a farmer said ``The ridge gourd seed is a good foreign exchange earner. If the government applies for a patent for the indigenously developed seed, it will help boost its exports. Vegetable farmers need to be encouraged to increase the crop acreage of ridge gourd considering its good market potential.’’
By Saride Nageswara Rao