Brocolli revolution in Himachal; brothers from Mahunag show way


By: Varun Rattan Singh

Often we hear people saying in Himachal: “Nothing can be done here”. These words have been abused to an extent that the very idea has become firmly engraved in minds of young people in Himachal. The basic idea of Young Guns column at HimVani, here is to break this thought process. So far, the kind of youngsters the column has covered, come from a city background with families to support them. The story, which follows is, of a novel and noble idea pursued from fancy to reality by two brothers belonging to a remote village in Himachal Pradesh.

Mahunag is a small village located on the periphery of Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh. The nearest town is Karsog which is roughly 35 km from the village. Like most of the villages in the state, the civil infrastructure is well in place. Mahunag has a High School with nice small playground. There was even an eco-tourism club in the school. Other amenities such as drinking water supply, 24 hours electricity, forest rest house, rural telecom exchange, bus service, health centre are well in place. The visible signs of development were attributed to two local politicians, Mansa Ram and Mast Ram. Both belong to rival political parties and did their bit for the constituency when voted to power.

In spite of the development in the physical infrastructure and connectivity, the place is fairly remote. The remoteness was not just in distance but in our minds considering that there was nothing worthwhile for city sticklers like us to do. The best way to while away time was to strike a conversation. The chowkidar of the Forest Guest House was more than willing to oblige. The discussion meandered around various subjects till we chanced upon the income sources for the village. It came as a surprise to know that he was cultivating Broccoli. Vegetables are cultivated in Himachal to a large extent but mostly they are of a desi variety. To add to it, he was also cultivating other Chinese herbs. Four years back, Balanandra and Jayanandra, two brothers from the village came from Delhi. One was working as a manager in a hotel and the other was with a retail store. They started cultivation of Broccoli in their own fields. Their neighbours too got interested and started planting the exotic vegetable. Today the village produces almost 100 tons of Broccoli alone. Each bigha of land gives approximately five tons of Broccoli.
Broccoli fields, post harvest

It has now become customary for the brothers to come to the village in the month of April. They bring seeds of vegetables along with them. Then, another trip in the month of June is made to the village to pool all the produce. The produce is taken by them to Delhi where the going rate for Broccoli ranges from Rs 60 to 100 per kg, depending on the season. The farmers are paid between Rs 35 and Rs 60 per kg again, depending on the season, produce and quality of the vegetables. Man Singh who owns five bighas of land earns almost Rs 20,000 per bigha for an investment of Rs 3000 – 4000 per bigha.

A local forest official was however complaining. Though happy with the change in the economy of the place, he could not find labour to work in resin tapping work. He has to rely on unskilled labour from other parts of the state and Bihar who were making a mess of resin tapping operations. However, the local farmer is happy, as he gets a reasonable return for his produce. It also reduces his dependence on apple crop, which over the years has become increasingly unpredictable due to vagaries of nature.

During our short stay in the village, we could not meet the two brothers, but Man Singh was happy and attributed it all to them. Hopefully, we will see more Balanandra and Jayanandras who will take upon themselves to change the socio- economic conditions in their villages for better. Proving us all wrong who keep on harping ‘Nothing can be done here”

Some photographs of Mahunag village




Mahunag Temple


Mahunag High School


BSNL Rural exchange


Forest Rest House


Devdar Eco Club Mahunag


HRTC Bus Service .

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  1. Mahunag is just a small part of Karsog area which has started cultivation of exotic vegetables for last four years and contributing only 5-6% of the areas production .Entire karsog area,and Churag in particular is an exotic vegetable production hub, which have been producing these vegetables for last 10 -12 years. Two brothers are involved in trading activities. In all there are 11 traders working from different areas, Mr.Balanand from Mahunag belt.Dr. Dharam Pal Sharma, pioneer for this revolution brought seeds of different vegetables and introduced the same in this beautiful valley through his farm in Chamanpur at Churag 16 years back. He could not get much support from the government and farmers so he headed back to US from where he brought this Idea of exotic vegetables and floriculture. We have been started organising farmers of the area for last five years to adopt the high tech and modern cultivation. Technical experts are being invited by the Kisan clubs formed by Himachal Gramin Bank, Churag and Pangna branch, with the financial support by NABARD. Imported and high yielding and quality seeds are available there in the seed stores but still some traders are bringing and distributing cheap seed to the farmers, effecting their economics. All out efforts are being done by the volunteers of Karsog Valley farmers group to educate growers to use proper seeds.

    From month May to November four to five tons of exotic vegetable per day alone is exported to New Delhi, Chandigarh and Jallandhar from this area. These herbs and vegetables include Parsley, Asparagus, sweet colour peppers(red-yellow capsicums),leaks, Cherry tomatoes, Zucchini, Pokchoy, red and green lettuce, European carrot , European reddish snow peas and baby corn apart from broccoli .



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