The whole world is screaming that there could be World War III because of water crisis. Day by day there has been upsurge of water crisis all over the world. The continued failure of monsoon as well as steep decline in ground water table has been aggravating the crisis further. Amidst all these challenges and difficulties we have been struggling to continue our agriculture activities. We are forced to use water resources frugally and that’s our state of affairs, at present. At this juncture, only if we futuristically choose crops that do not require more water supplies we will be able to continue our agriculture activities without considerable problems. That is why, of late, guava that requires less water and at the same time being drought resistant becomes the preferred choice of many farmers. Further, day by day the number of farmers growing guava has been increasing as it fetches high returns.
Ayakkudy, a village situated near Palani of Dindigul district is famous for guava cultivation. The guava variety that has been grown in the neighborhood of this area has its own specialty. Besides, there also prevails a market particularly for this variety in the Ayakkudy area, making it the primary crop in this neighborhood. In this area, Kadhirvel, a pioneer organic farmer, has been growing this variety for many years.
His guava farm is situated 200 meters, right to the muddy road before entering into TKN Pudur, a village, opposite to the Ayakkudy market, lying between Dindigul-Palani road. We met him while he was sprinkling Panchakavya with the help of his family members at this farm, a wonderful grove ensconced amidst the recently harvested brinjal field, and Kanvali kizhangu (a kind of tuber, Glory lily), tomatoes hanging from the branches, the lane guarded on either side by single row of coconut trees, the Palani temple at the top of the distant hill and the early morning breeze with its fragrance.
Natural farming helps in drought management
“We are traditional farmers. I have been farming in 20 acres of land. Guava is present in ten acres. Tomato is in two acres. Brinjal planted in another two acres, which is over now. I have planted water melon in three acres and it has produced flowers and tender melons. Remaining land area is left as such. This year was very tough due to lack of rain. We are managing with the meager water resources. I am able to manage with ten acres of guava as it does not require much water. Over and above, I could withstand this drought condition only because I am completely following natural farming methods”, continued Kadhirvel, handing over the sprayer to his son and taking us around his guava grove.
Household labor is enough
“Guava cultivation is predominant in our locality. The guava grown in this area is tasty because of the favorable type of soil and also the agro-climatic conditions. We get INR 20 per kg of guava. Maintenance is very less. We can manage with household labor. That’s why all of us are opting for guava cultivation.
Generally, Lucknow-49 variety is prevalent in this locality. Next to that is Benares variety, with moderate spread. Kerala is the best market for guava. They don’t like ripe guavas and prefer unripe ones more. Therefore Lucknow-49 variety is apt for unripe condition whereas Benares is meant for ripe guavas.
In our grove, we have all three varieties, Lucknow-49, Benares and red guava. Though we grow them organically they are sold only in the Ayakkudy market. Now and then we get orders from organic shoppers. I am a member of the Ayakkudy Guava Farmers’ Association. Through the Association we have started to crush the fruits, make them into guava juice, bottle them up and sell them”, described Kadhirvel who then elaborated about yield and income details.
50 kg per month
In general, a gap of 8’x8’ between the plants and 10’x10’ gap between the rows should be allotted for guava cultivation. But I have planted with 10’x10’ and 12’x12’ gaps in my land. Similarly, I have planted them at different age groups, 3 years, 5 years and 7 years old. There are 3000 trees in ten acres of land.
On an average, 50 kg guavas can be harvested from a tree in a year. One kg can be sold not less than 15 INR and they can at the maximum sold for 60 INR. Considering all expenses, one can at least get 20 INR per kg at the end. Based on that calculation, we can get one thousand rupees from a tree in a year. Therefore for 3000 trees we can easily get 30 lakhs rupees as income. In a year, we would be spending rupees 250 per tree and therefore the expenditure is 7.5 lakhs only. Deducting the expenditure we could gain 22,50,000 rupees for ten acres per year. And per acre it will be 2,25,000 rupees and this is a very conservative calculation only. I usually sell the fruits at 50 rupees per kg to organic shoppers. Similarly, considerable quantity of fruits are made into juice and sold in the market with value addition and its profit is separate from what is sold in the market”, told Kadhirvel with complete satisfaction.
“Recently there was a disease affecting the fruits in our neighborhood areas. So far we could not decipher what sort of disease it is. We are informed that it is a kind of virus disease. The trees split into two and wither away gradually. There were so many trees being killed in this area due to the disease. But an interesting thing is that those trees which have been grown organically, including mine, have not been affected by the disease. As far as the guava farming is concerned there is no need for much toiling. They can grow resisting drought conditions. To me, guava is much more profitable than any other vegetable crops”, Kadhirvel concluded happily.
For contact, Kadhirvel mobile number: 9443218247
Planting during June, July…
Kadhirvel described about guava cultivation shared here as lessons.
All types of soil with good draining characteristic are good for guava cultivation. Planting can be done during the monsoon period of June and July. Plough the identified land for cultivation thoroughly. With a gap of 8’x8’ between the plants and 10’x10’ gap between the rows dig pits of one cubic foot dimension. With this spacing 545 pits can be dug in an acre of land. In each pit, fill 2 kg of farm yard manure and ¼ kg of neem oil cake, each and then plant a tree. Neem oil cake is a good protection against pest and disease attack.
After planting, continuously for three months, irrigation should be done, ensuring that the root portion is not getting dried up at any cost. After that irrigation can be done for every 15 days and if there are no guavas in the trees, it can even be for twenty days once. Drip irrigation is better than canal irrigation. When the trees are fruiting irrigation should be done compulsorily for every 15 days. Every time, 200 liters of Jeevamirtham can be mixed with the irrigation water.
The tips of the plants can be nipped off when they grow up to 1.5 feet height. This will make the stem grow into two or three branches. So as to have the fruits reachable the height of the trees can be pruned annually at a considerable height. Flowering will happen after five months of planting. Those flowers should be shredded off. Continuously shredding the flowers at the beginning will make the stem stronger and broader. Shredding can be done at least for two years. Periodic pruning and shredding of flowers should be followed so as to make the trees stronger and after two years the flowers should be allowed to grow as fruits.
Neem seed repels thread worms
Powdery mildew is the common pestilence for guava trees. They can be controlled by spraying 300 ml of Panchakavya in 10 liters of water, sprayed every 15 days once, to the extent of wetting the whole tree. In spite of it, if there are pestilences still found, mix 1.5 liters of Panchakavya with 3 liters of Jeevamirtham and 500 ml neem oil in 200 liters of water and spray it on the trees, wetting them fully.
Thread worm infestation will also be more in guava trees. Marigold can be planted around each tree to prevent its infestations. They do not attack trees grown by natural farming methods. If thread worms are found on the trees in spite of it, dig a hole close to the stem on the ground and fill it with grounded neem seeds and then cover it with soil. This will protect the tree from the worms. Fruits can be harvested when they look luxuriant and their dark green coat slowly paling out.
Four goats and a buffalo
Kadhirvel is rearing four Thalacheri goats and a buffalo at his farm towards gathering natural manure from them. He was speaking about it, “At the beginning I was having more than thirty goats. Because of lack of rain I could not provide them with fodder. Therefore I sold them retaining only four of them with me for their dung. I prepare Panchakavya using the dung, milk and curd from the buffalo. And also I will collect its urine, mix it with water and spray it on the crops, now and then. My expense on fertilizer and pesticide is borne by these natural products I get from these animals, besides getting milk for domestic purpose.
Tomato under the shade of Kanvali kizhangu (Gloriosa sp., Marigold)
Kadhirvel is growing Kanvali kizhangu at his farm and also tomatoes under its shade. Regarding this, he said, “Tomatoes need a stick for support as a maintenance practice. To make them stand erect a stick is attached to each stem. That is why I made a Kanvali kizhangu shade which cost around one lakh. Under its shade tomatoes thrive comfortably. The fruits don’t crack and become dirty on ground and grow bigger in size. This year I did not get expected returns due to lack of rain and also the expected price. Therefore there is no significant income from tomatoes. Shading is a commendable practice and I hope to get better yield and income from tomatoes during the next season, at least”.
Kadhirvel was describing the way of preparing value added guava juice, “People prefer to eat only the unripe guavas . Therefore guava fruits are not sold significantly. The red variety of guava perishes quickly and therefore they are made into juice after grinding and extracting. We don’t use decayed fruits for making juice. Only fruits with high quality and richness are used for making guava juice.
After thoroughly washing the fruits, they are machine crushed and made into pulp. Ten liters of water and ten kg of pulp will be soaked. After thorough soaking, the supernatant is decanted and heated at 75 degrees Centigrade and filled in containers, to be sent to markets.
One kg fruit will provide 700 ml of fruit juice. The juice will be filled in 700 ml container and sold for rupees 50 and 250 ml is sold for rupees 20. It can be stored for three months. Currently, we get orders for guava juice from organic shoppers. As I am a member of Ayakkudi Guava Farmers’ Association I market the juice bottles in the same name.
Ayakkudi guava market
All over Tamilnadu, there is a market exclusively for guava only in Ayakkudi. It gathers daily at the open ground nearby the village limit. Farmers bring guava from their fields by 6 am and buyers from Kerala, and Dharmapuri, Salem, Madurai from Tamilnadu gather in the market to buy them wholesale. There are no intermediate agents/brokers in the market. The farmers can directly deal with the merchants. The farmers can decide what price the fruits should be sold after negotiation. To be short, it functions like a Farmer’s shandy, by the local farmers. The sale will pick up by 7 am and will wind up by 9 am itself. Mangoes will also reach the market during their own seasons.
(This article written by R Kumaresan in Tamil has been reproduced in English by V Amalan Stanley)