Many farmers who cultivate sugarcane solely depend on the sugar industries. The sufferings endured by those farmers, due to failure of harvesting at the appropriate time and undue dragging of payment for the procured sugarcane, are beyond description. But there are farmers who do not depend on those industries but profit by converting sugarcane into jaggery, with value addition.
Particularly those farmers of Tanjore district, near Papanasam, from the villages like Veeramangudi, Devankudi, Manalur, Iluppakkorai, Mahalipuram and Anaikudi, remain unshackled from those industries, get appreciable income from making country jaggery and jaggery. Among them is Mr Elanchezhian, a sugarcane farmer from Veeramangudi, cultivating it through organic farming, gaining adequate profit out of it.
In one of the afternoons, we met Mr. Elanchezhian at his farm while he was involved in making country jaggery. “After completing 12th standard I got into our family profession of agriculture. For generations, we have been cultivating sugarcane and making country jaggery and jaggery out of it. In those olden days, we produced sugarcane without chemical inputs and also made jaggery without any addition of chemicals. But, in due course of time, we started using chemical fertilizers in order to gain more yield. And also we started adding chemicals to country jaggery and jaggery to make them look shining.
Most of them make country jaggery by using chemicals. I have been cultivating sugarcane organically for the past three years. And I have been making both country jaggery and jaggery without using considerable chemicals”. With a preamble, he continued to describe about his agri venture.
“We own 15 acres of land. The soil is made of sand and clay, a dual property. We cultivate sugarcane in 13 acres and the remaining two with paddy cultivation. We are rearing seven traditional cows to support our organic venture. A yield of 35 tons of sugarcane per acre through chemical inputs is possible. Though the yield could be more at the beginning, it will tend to gradually dwindle in due course of time. This will necessitate dumping of more amounts of fertilizers, which will lead to increased spending on fertilizer. There will also be increased need of water supply. Further, we need to spray pesticides against sugarcane stem insects.
But it’s not so with organic cultivation. The yield will keep increasing gradually. After turning to organic cultivation I got 18 tons at the first harvest, and 20 tons during the second harvest. I am waiting for the third harvest this year. They are six months old now. They look fertile and strong. I expect a yield of more than 22 tons this time. As it is organically grown, maximum of ten re-cut yields can be gained. But it will only be three harvests if chemical fertilizers are used. With organic cultivation, even if the crop is allowed as such for six months its quality will remain the same. This helps us to harvest the crop as and when required.
Country jaggery and jaggery made organically will not degrade until six months, if there is no contact with water or air. But chemically made jaggery will not endure even three months. They will degrade and taste sour. And the taste will remain enhanced with country jaggery and jaggery made organically”. He then started giving details about his income.
“From the first harvest of sugarcane after having converted to organic method of cultivation I gained 18 tons from an acre that amounts to 234 tons from a total of 13 acres. When it is made into juice and boiled we could produce and sell 13,000 kg of country jaggery and 2,210 kg of jaggery. One kg of country jaggery is sold for Rs 70 and one kg of jaggery for Rs 75.
Organic shoppers buy from me. There is high demand for country jaggery only. By selling country jaggery I earned Rs 9,10,000 and Rs. 1,65,750 from jaggery totalling Rs 10,75,750.
Deducting the expenditure from ploughing till jaggery production from the sale, I could get a net profit of Rs 3,98,190. Going further, the yield will gradually increase and therefore will lead to more profit. Similarly, as we can get more number of harvests from re-cut, the cultivation cost will come down and at the same time increase in the yield.
Though the yield is comparatively lesser than the chemically grown sugarcane at the beginning the input cost is lesser with organically grown sugarcane. And there is gradual increase in yield as well. There is also lesser need for water supply. I am getting an income on a par with the sugarcanes sold to industries. This income will gradually increase. It’s far better than selling the produce to the industries and deplorably wait for payment. In my experience, in order to be self reliant in sugarcane cultivation, the right approach is to opt for organic cultivation and method of value addition”. With that, he got seriously involved in stirring the boiling sugarcane juice.
For contact, Mr Elanchezhian, Mobile: 90427-75813
Fish Amino Acid
Keep one kg of country jaggery and one kg of fish discards together in a plastic bucket and keep it closed air tight for forty days. There will be a honey like sediment, with fish wastes at the bottom in the bucket. There will not be any obnoxious smell from the liquid. But if it smells like fruit then we can be sure that the fish amino acid is ready.
Amino acid is a growth promoter. If it is sprayed on the crops they will grow luxuriantly. Mix 500 ml of amino acid in 10 litres of water for spraying in the field. Once prepared, the amino acid can be stored for about six months. After taking out a portion for spraying, keep the container airtight. It should be protected from the domestic animals like cats and dogs.
“If one tone of sugarcane is put under the crusher about 650 litres of juice can be obtained. For one time boiling of juice, about two tons of sugarcane will be used for crushing. To a pan of 2000 litre capacity 1300 litres of juice will be poured and boiled. If excess juice is poured and boiled, the pan will overflow and get wasted. The sugarcane waste or bagasse can be used fully as fuel.
While boiling the juice, gradually keep adding 100 gram of baking soda and 100 gram of oyster calcium. The dirt generated from boiling will float on the pan and it can be removed by sieving. It should be boiled for about two and half hours and by the time the juice will foam up like milk and then calm down. At that time pour 200 ml of coconut oil and mix it with the boiling semisolid portion of jaggery. Only then it will not stick on the container and gathering it will be easier. Within half an hour it will get solidified. This can be immediately poured on to the wooden box with 10 feet length and breadth with one foot height. The semisolid portion can be mixed thoroughly using an iron plate with a wooden stick. It can be made as bolus with our hands to prepare jaggery and if it is dried loosely it can become country jaggery”. Thus he explained about jaggery making.
It is also called as ‘catalyst of soil fertility’. As soon as it is sprayed on the land microorganisms in the soil will multiply within 24 hours. It helps in crop growth without any pest attacks. Generally, it can be sprayed on the field once in every 15 days. It can be supplied once in a week too, provided the plants seemed to be withered. If possible, it can be mixed and supplied along whenever irrigation is done.
Method of preparation
Collect the one time voided cow dung and urine (it can be any variety of cattle) using a plastic bucket. Add to it a handful of jaggery and one pot of water. It can be kept under a shade undisturbed for 24 hours and then it is ready as Amudhakaraisal. It can be sprayed on the crops with one portion of it mixed with ten portion of water. Ten tanks per acre (one tank – 10 litres) needs to be sprayed. It can be mixed through irrigation as well.
This is the way of organic cultivation of sugarcane
The details of organic cultivation of sugarcane in an acre of land as described by Mr Elanchezhian are collated hereunder.
The chosen land of one acre can be ploughed by double furrow method. Add 2 tons of cow manure, 6 tons of burnt coal dust of sugarcane waste to the land. Then plough the land by triple furrow method. Sprinkle 7 kg of Thakkaipoondu (Daincha) and make land bars with a dimension of 3 ½ feet breadth and ¾ foot height in horizontal position. Between two bars continuously plant sugarcane seed cuts (Ko-86032). Irrigate the field based on the type of soil.
From the 20th day of planting, once in every 40 days, pass 800 litres of Amudhakaraisal and 500 ml of fish amino acid along with irrigation. From the 40th day of planting, once in every 40 days, pass 800 litres of Amudhakaraisal and 500 ml of Panchakavya along with irrigation.
On day 30, remove only the Thakkaipoondu grown around the sugarcane and bury them under the soil. After twenty days, the remaining can be ploughed using Rotavator. On day 75, clean the field. On day 80, make bunds around the sugarcane crop. Every now and then, the sheaths can be torn apart and kept as mulch.
After 11th month, sugarcane can be harvested. After harvesting, add 2 tons of cow manure, 6 tons of sugarcane waste burnt coal dust to the land and irrigate it. Regularly supply Amudhakaraisal, Panchakavya and fish amino acid and maintain the soil fertility. Periodically remove the weeds. Second batch of sugarcane can be harvested on the ninth month itself.
Preparation of Panchakayva
To prepare Panchakavya it requires nine different items mostly from either a traditional cow or any other breed of cow.
Method of preparation
Soak groundnut oil cake in water for an hour before getting ready for preparation. Add all the materials enlisted in the above table in a pot or a plastic bucket. Keep it under the shade. The container can be covered with a thin cloth to protect it from dusts and dirt. Stir the contents daily. It will allow methane gas to get out and help beneficial microorganisms to multiply. Within seven days Panchakavya will be ready. By this method, we can get about 20 litres of Panchakavya.
It can be sprayed on crops in the ratio of 300 ml of it in 10 litres of water (The volume can be lesser for greens). Once prepared, Panchakavya can be stored for about six months.
It can be sprayed on all types of crop as growth enhancer. It can also be used for seed treatment. For an acre of land, 30 liters of Panchakavya and 200 liters of Amudhakaraisal can be passed on through irrigation.
This will enhance soil fertility, more number of flowering, and improve the taste of vegetables and fruits. Pests and disease attack will be minimum. Yield will be more. There will be considerable benefit by spraying it when the crop growth is retarded. It can be sprayed once in 15 days for crops. Only for paddy, it should not be sprayed once there is sprouting. If it is sprayed during that period, the skin of paddy will thicken, which will in turn make the rice stout.
(This article written by K Ramakrishnan in Tamil for Pasumai Vikatan magazine dt 10 Oct 2017 has been reproduced in English by V Amalan Stanley)