In spite of not having acres of land, no adequate water in the well and no farm workers to attend her call Kamaleshwari Thangarasu from Tirupur district has been managing with the support of a deep bore well and drip irrigation method to sustain her farm. With these limited resources she is able to cultivate vegetables through crop rotation methods.
Her farm is situated in Melapalayam village, near Pongalur. We met Kamaleshwari at her farm for a special edition to document exclusively women farmers, while she was working in the radish field.
“This is our native village. There is only 2 acres of land in total. There is no sufficient water resource to cultivate turmeric, sugarcane, banana that fetch high returns. For the small and marginal farmers like us vegetable cultivation is the only treasure. Tirupur is just a call away and being an industrial suburb there is always high demand for vegetables due to larger population. Therefore our livelihood depends solely on Tirupur. At the beginning we carried and sold the vegetables to the daily market. We need to pay 10% of the sales as commission. Currently, there is no need to pay commission as we sell the vegetables at the Farmers’ market. We are able to do business without any intermediaries”. She guided us to her vegetable farm.
“There are only vegetables in these two acres of land. We sow vegetables by dividing the land into each 30 cents. We cultivate ladies finger, tomato, radish, beet root, beans and green leaves on a rotational basis in such a way that we get continuous harvest from them. The climatic condition of our place is conducive to grow beet root and beans. There are no laborers involved from sowing till harvest. I continue to do all farm activities from weeding, manuring, and irrigating to harvesting, on my own. My husband will bag the harvested vegetables and carry the bags to the farmers’ market early morning, by 3 o’ clock. Whenever he finds time he will help me in the farm work. Earlier, we used to take water from the well and directly irrigate it through channels to the farm. There was considerable loss of water. Besides, we could cultivate only in half an acre of land. Then only we opted for drip irrigation method. That helps cultivating in two acres of land. At present, radish is ready for harvest in 30 cents. The next 30 cents hold beans to be harvested by next week. Similarly, there is Manathakkali (Solanum nigrum) in 30 cents, which will be harvested in another fifteen days. For the next phase of cultivation, we have sowed radish in 30 cents and the remaining 80 cents is ready for sowing ladies finger and beans”. As she was describing about the farm activities, Thangarasu returned from the market after selling the vegetables.
He started speaking to us. “I am an ardent reader of ‘Pasumai Vikatan’. I have been keeping all of its editions from the beginning. We are completely following organic methods of cultivation. We buy Panchakaavya and chicken manure from outside and use them in our farm. As we follow rotational cultivation of ladies finger, radish, beans, tomato and Avarai (broad bean), we are able to get continuous harvest based on their season. Now and then, we grow Amaranthes varieties too. Daily we harvest about 120 – 150 kg of vegetables. All these vegetables are sold at the Farmers’ market. In a year, at least for 200 days I will be able to send vegetables to the market. Ladies finger can be sold for rupees 20-30 per kg, beans for rupees 30-50 per kg, tomato for rupees 5 – 50 per kg and broad bean for rupees 20-50 per kg.
Based on the above calculation, whenever I send the vegetables to the market, I could get not less than rupees 3000 per day. If it is calculated for 200 days, then the income will be rupees 6 lakhs. Deducting one lakh for transport charge for the van, maintenance and seed cost, I could get at least rupees 5 lakhs from two acres of land. As the land area is smaller we could do all farm activities on our own. Therefore there is no labor cost. Rarely if the vegetable prices come down there won’t be much loss. Since there is a huge demand for vegetables from the neighbouring cities, even big farmers in Coimbatore and Tirupur districts also venture for vegetable cultivation in smaller land areas like ½ or ¾ of an acre”.
Kamaleshwari spoke with contentment. “With the current crisis of water scarcity no one could cultivate in many acres of land. With small land holding of a few acres we could surely get daily income if we continue to do agriculture properly. We stand a proof for it”, she concluded saying good bye to us.
Similar maintenance process for all vegetables
The vegetable cultivation methods described by Kamaleshwari are given below as lessons.
In natural farming, maintenance is similar for all vegetable cultivations. After ploughing an acre of land thoroughly, pour 8 tons of farm yard manure on the farm land. Then plough the land again and make bunds according to the land contour. Lay out the drip irrigation lines and also sow the intended seeds in the designated holes. Generally, there should be 2 feet gap between the rows for vegetable cultivation. Irrigate the field after sowing and then on the third day. Carry out weeding on day 20 and 30. On day 25, mix recommended amount of organic manure containing nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium through drip irrigation. On day 15 and 35, spray the mixture of 300 ml of Panchakaavya in 10 liters of water. No other maintenance is required. If pests are found in the field, use recommended organic pesticides. All the more, pestilence issue will be lesser with organic cultivation. Panchakaavya, sprayed during the growth phase also acts as an insect repellent.
(This article originally written in Tamil by G Palanisamy for Pasumai Vikatan has been reproduced in English by V Amalan Stanley)