Vegetables like tomoto, onion etc. have constant demand in the market irrespective of season, cost and whatever other factors may be. Such being the case, Sampathkumar of Arasur in Coimbatore, has been successfully cashing in on this opportunity by growing tomato in cycles and selling more from his farm under organic farming method.
Sampathkumar belongs to Coimbatore only and he studied psychology but engaged in agriculture out of keen interest. When his father was alive he was using only two out of six acres of land. Afterwards, he started using the remaining four acres under organic method by growing plantain, tomato etc. As confessed by Sampathkumar, his neighbour Ramaswamy and his wife Poonkothai were only instrumental for his adopting the organic method.
Initially,Sampathkumar was under chemical farming practice only, using two acres of land by growing cotton, onion, brinjal and plantain. However, his neighbours Ramaswamy and his wife Poonkothai kept on insisting on the use of organic farming by showing Pasumai Vikatan books. They used to highlight the importance of organic farming method to anyone they came across by showing the copies of Pasumai Vikatan to them.
During the early stage, Sampathkumar was not fully convinced of the value of organic farming. He used to still rely on chemical farming method. Similarly, his neighbour Ramaswamy was also unrelenting.. It was their practice to start planting small onions during the month of Vaikasi. While Sampathkumar resorted to chemical farming method, his neighbour used organic farming practice. Both took it up as a challenge to find out who would be able to procure more from one acre with a challenge that the one who got defeated should convert to the other method by default. Both of them used one acre for this exclusive purpose.
Obviously, Sampathkumar spent more money in terms of buying insecticides, chemical manures etc. whereas Ramaswamy used the organic inputs for manure as well as driving out the insects, thus incurring less cost. In about 60 days they started harvesting. Surprisingly, while Ramaswamy’s onions were of shining colours, Sampathkumar’s onions were of dull colour. While Ramaswamy got 7 tonne harvest, Sampathkumar got only 4 tonne. As regards sales, Ramaswamy got Rs.7/- more per kilo while Sampathkumar got only the market price.
Sampathkumar accepted the defeat to his Ramaswamy and was determined to shift himself to organic farming practice. Accordingly, his friend Ramaswamy gave him some useful and relevant books which included Pasumai Vikatan also. Sampathkumar updated himself with the details and also joined some training courses in order to know more about organic farming practice. Subsequently, he bought a country cow and learnt how to prepare the inputs and organic insecticides.
Pakku mattai powder:-
Incidentally, people began to use the land for house construction in and around Sampathkumar’s farm of 4 acres. In fact, he was also approached to spare his land for sale which he refused to budge. Instead, Sampathkumar started using his 4 acres under organic farm practice by preparing the ground. He brought pakku mattai powder(areca nut tree waste) from the near factory and filled his land after due irrigation. Then he laid alluvial soil on top of it and allowed it to dry for three months. This created lot of termites and the soil became nice. Leaving ½ acre for his passage facility, he used 2 acres for plantain and 1 ½ acre for tomato cultivation and installed drip irrigation facility in his farm.
Tomato cultivation under rotation method:-
Sampathkumar has been cultivating tomato in half acre each of his land on a rotation basis since it is a short season product. He says that it is the fourth time of harvest that he has had so far and as an inter-crop he has been growing small onion also and both enjoy the growth phase together as they are in the same land portion.
No problem from insects:-
For the past one year Sampathkumar has been under organic farming. He has been providing jeevamirdham and panchakavya for the tomato plants once in fifteen days through drip irrigation. Moreover, he has also shielded his land with a green net so that no dirt will come from the houses situated adjacent to this land. In addition to this, he has sprinkled agni asthram and brimmasthram on the tomato plants to do away with the insects. He has also been cultivating nendran plantain under organic farming.
Sampathkumar states that he planted tomato in the month of Chithirai and due to very hot summer, the yield was comparatively less, i.e. he got around 6 tonnes in half an acre instead of around 10 tonnes. He was able to make the harvest after 65 days instead of the normal period of 50 days. Similarly, the season of yield was also over within two months.
While he was able to sell 6 tonnes to the vendors, he gave away the remaining quantity to his neighbours on retail basis. He was able to sell @ Rs.300 to 350/- per basket (10 kg), totalling 5 tonnes. The sixth tonne fetched him little more @ Rs.1,200/- per basket. In all, he was able to get a total sum of Rs.2,85,000/- against 6 tonne tomatoes. This is exclusive of the retail sales for which he does not have precise account details.
Income & Expenditure Details of tomato cultivation in ½ acre land (in Rupees):
Particulars Expenditure Income
Alluvial soil 15,000
Pakku mattai powder 10,000
Drip water irrigation 7,000
Tomato seedling expenses 2,700
Sale value of tomato 2,85,000
Sale value of onions 24,500
Total 49,600 3,09,500
Net Profit 2,59,900
Income from inter-crop:-
He was able to receive Rs.24,500/- from the sale of 350 kg.onion @ Rs.70/- per kilo. In all, he received a sum of Rs.3,09,500/- against the total expenditure of Rs.39,600/-. His net return was Rs.2,59,900/-
Constant care is necessary:-
As shared by Sampathkumar, the factors that are responsible for his high return in tomato cultivation are that a) he has particularly chosen the hybrid variety b) practised organic farming c) adopted rotational planting and cultivation and d) provided constant care to his farm under all circumstances. That is why he is able to have harvest throughout the year with steady returns. Any shortfall in his income will immediately be compensated by increase in return subsequently due to the above reasons. Next harvest for tomato is in the offing which he expects to sell @ Rs.300/- per basket. The availability of water and red soil has also contributed to his high return in both tomato and onion as inter-crop cultivation. He stays in his farm day in and day out because he faces disturbance from peacocks. Barring this he is very happy to have shared his experience of success.
Sampathkumar narrates the process of tomato cultivation in ½ acre land as under:-
Red soil is suitable and it can grow under any season if it is hybrid variety
Depending on the weather condition of that particular locality, the variety can be chosen for planting
The allotted ½ acre land must be firmly irrigated until it reaches a consistency
Residues like pakku mattai powder should be filled up up to 2” height. If pakku mattai is not available, pasundhal manure plants can be planted and they can be ploughed at the time of flowering again
After the inputs get fully decayed on the land surface, 7 tractor load of organic manure is required to be spread and evened out
Drip water irrigation facility must be established and land is made wet
Tomato plants should be planted in rows with a gap of 3 ft. each and 1 ½ ft.distance between plants
Before planting, 30 ml.panchakavya should be mixed in 1 lt. water and should be poured on the seedling so that it will be become moist enough for accepting the plant
Planting should be done only after 4 PM so that they will not decay because they will get the coolness in the night
After planting, irrigation should be arranged
If one desires inter-crop planting, it can be done the next day
Daily irrigation must be done for first three days; afterwards it can be done on alternate days
Weeding must be carefully done so that the plants will get sufficient energy
On the 15th, 30th and 45th days we must pour 100 lt.filtered jeevamirdham through drip water process. If panchakavya is available, that can also be poured along with jeevamirdham.The general inputs can be given depending on the growth of the plants from time to time.
Further, ½ basket cow’s dung should be mixed in 10 lts. cow’s urine and the liquid substance should be filtered. This filtered liquid should also be mixed with the drip water and poured on the plants. Point to be noted is that the cow’s urine should not be directly poured on the plants as they would be burnt out. Similarly, while giving organic manure, cow’s dung only should be given and not the poultry manure as the latter is not suitable for tomato cultivation.
On the 30th day flowering will occur and on the 45th day we will be able to pluck the fruits. Initially, it will give 4 or 5 kilos only but from the 50th day onwards, it will start giving more. Jeevamirdham can be given if the quantity becomes less. Plucking can be done daily or on alternate days
Depending on the level of maintenance, we can get 9 to 10 tonnes of tomatoes from ½ an acre of land
To protect the plants from insects, lamp traps can be fixed. Or else, yellow colour sheets of paper can be smeared with castor oil and hanged out in different places for the insects to be trapped. If it is still not contained, herbal insecticides can be used to do away with the insects.
Arasur Sampathkumar’s landmark achievement in tomato cultivation is marvellous, thanks to his consistent efforts based on the guidelines provided by Pasumai Vikatan.
(This article written in Tamil by Palanisamy has been reproduced in English by P.S.Ramamurthy)