It’s adequate to supply water to alternate bunds for Areca and Coconut. If you could do farming by understanding what is required for the soil and crop you would get enough returns and happiness. “This is what Nammalvar advised me after inspecting my farm. By adopting it as per my plan I have been cultivating ever since. I am getting good returns and I am happy too” shared erstwhile bank official, Govindarajulu, Vaazhaithottam village, Arur taluk, Dharmapuri district.
His farm resembles a shola with tall Areca trees teasing the sky, turmeric plants sending their fragrance in the surrounding air and paddy fields awaiting harvest. He started describing his transformation as an organic farmer whose interest being seeded by Pasumai Vikatan. Agriculture is flowing in our blood as my father was a farmer. Though moved away from my village to Chennai for academic reasons my interest in agriculture never decimated. After completion of my degree I worked for a year in the farm with my father. But I could not get enough returns. At that juncture I got a job in a bank and therefore could not find time to involve in agriculture. We are four siblings and he divided the family property into four and he was taking care of the land that belonged to me as I was away from the village. After his demise I continued farming activity through hired laborers and as it was not profitable I planted coconut trees in a part of my land. It was fetching some revenue and I was using chemical inputs in the farm.
I retired from my service in 2008 and I could not keep idle after having worked actively in the banking sector. So, I started agriculture on my own and also was learning Siddha practice at the same time. That was when I had started reading Pasumai Vikatan whose contents were new and different from usual. As I get to read more and more about organic farming it ingrained an interest towards it gradually. After deep contemplation I decided to go completely organic. That was the preamble.
Hope from Banana!
I tried all organic formulations suggested by experienced farmers through Pasumai Vikatan. First time I cultivated banana and it did not fail me. Though revenue was not huge it was profitable. Since then I ventured organic farming only in my land.
Nammalvar, a good mentor!
After venturing totally into organic farming I started approaching experienced organic farmers. I attended many training programs conducted by Nammalvar. I was attracted by his way of speech. As I wished to benefit other farmers of my village I organized a training program with the help of my friends, inviting him through Lions club in Arur. After the program I took him to my village.
He stayed at my home that night. During the morning rounds to my farm he witnessed a water channel running between two areca trees. He said “A tree cannot breathe if it is surrounded by water on either side. Therefore, provide water on a side and air on the other. Then only a tree could grow well. If you could respect and provide what the soil needs to have, it will in turn provide the plant what it needs. If you could follow this step your farm will further in its productivity”. Keeping that in mind I supplied water on one side and farmyard waste as mulch on the other side. Showing us around the farm he continued his story.
Reduction of inputs through formulation tank!
“As I continued my organic venture I started reducing input to the farm. I built a tank and gathered dung, urine and manger wastes from four of my cows, mixed with water and channeled it to the farm. After that, except Panchakaavya, the panacea, the need for any other external input was tremendously reduced. At present, without much expenditure I am able to successfully do agriculture.
Of the total 6.5 acre land there are 3000 areca trees occupying 4.5 acre and 62 coconut trees on the bunds and I cultivate turmeric in 90 cents. In 70 cents I cultivate paddy, fodder grass in 5 cents. House, cow shed, store house occupy the remaining 35 cents of my land”, with utmost satisfaction he described about the production and income from his land.
“Major income comes from areca trees. While planting areca income will be generated from banana intercropping during the first two years. There will not be income for the next four years and it will start fetching money by 6th year. Up to five kilogram of raw areca can be harvested from a single tree. One to one and a half kg will be recovered after cleaning and drying. I will sell the produce by fixing a price per tree.
This year, I could earn 3,60,000 INR from 3000 trees by selling 120 per areca tree. Similarly I earned 42000 INR from 60 coconut trees, by selling 700 per tree. The turmeric from 90 cents, after seasoning and drying amounted to 16 bags (100kg). 8000 INR per bag I could earn 1,28,000 INR. I could harvest 20 bags (70kg) paddy in 70 cents and keeping ten bags for domestic use, the remaining 10 bags can generate 350 kg rice after processing. I could sell it for 80 INR per kg, gaining 28000 INR. Therefore I could generate 5,58,000 INR from areca, coconut, turmeric and paddy, of which the net profit would be 3,88,000 INR after spending 70000 INR for salary for maintenance and labor, input and harvest cost. He was enthusiastically presenting the balance sheet, having witnessed huge profit.
Contact: Govindarajulu, Mobile: 94430-28026
Banana with Areca as intercropping
What Govindarajulu described about Areca cultivation….
“Life of Areca and coconut is same. Based on the quality of maintenance traditional areca varieties can live for 60-70 years fetching benefits throughout. Mediocre temperature with low water retention soil is conducive for areca growth. The land chosen for areca cultivation should be free of weeds, with 7’ by 7’ gap in between, plant Poovan or Karpooravalli. It is adequate to add usual farm manure and Panchakaavya. Within six months of its age banana could grow its canopy. Then either between two or four banana trees plant six month old areca plant with with 7’ by 7’ gap in between.
Inputs from Second Year
When banana grown in the first year is harvested, second harvest can also be completed. Within two years when areca trees have grown considerably, banana can be destroyed. Till banana is alive areca need not have separate inputs. After banana being cleared, once in every year, each areca tree should be given 5-10 kg of manure depending upon the size of each tree. Monthly once 200 liter of either Amuthakaraisal or Jeevamirthakaraisal can be passed through water channels. If there is low growth, it can be added with 5 liter of Panchakaavya.
Earn return from 6th year!
Weeds can be removed by ploughing with power tiller. The first water channel between two trees can be mulched with farm waste while the other one is used for irrigation. During 6th year the trees can flower and generate seeds. From 7-8 years there will be good returns, after which there can be harvest every year.
Black gram is mulching for turmeric
Before planting turmeric two kilogram black gram can be seeded in 90 cents. After planting turmeric the flowers plucked from black gram can be used for mulching turmeric plants. By doing this, weed problem is reduced and at the same time turmeric gets nitrogen from the flowers.
Areca not in between Coconut
If areca is planted in between coconut productivity of areca will be reduced. Therefore it is better to avoid that practice. But bunds along areca can be planted with coconut.
( This article originally appeared in Pasumai vikatan is now reproduced in English by Amalan Stanley)