Pannur Krishnappa is one of the ardent disciples of Padmashree Subash Palekar, the creator of ‘zero budget’ concept on agriculture. Pannur is 52 km from Mysore in Karnataka State. While zero budget culture is widespread right from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, Krishnappa has been successfully practising this in his farm at Pannur. He has created many farmers who are now specialists in this zero budget concept. Krishnappa has 5 acres of land with paddy and sugarcane only as his main products and has kept 3 acres as full-fledged forestry under zero budget. The forestry not only gathers rain water in abundance but also remains as an income-generating farm.
His forestry looks like a paradise. The natural scenery is rather arresting one’s attention. It is surrounded by harvested land, peacock like hanging sugarcane farm, busy women farmers, crystal clear stream with kidai sheep everywhere.. Krishnappa speaks both Tamil and Kannada.
Krishnappa’s full name is Krishnappa Dase Gowda and his native place is Pannur. Agriculture is their hereditary occupation for them. Basically, his land is full of good soil and abundant water with which he has been cultivating paddy, sugarcane and banana plants. On the face of it, everything may appear to be smooth; but he says the farmers are faced with innumerable problems like unending debt, eviction, suicide etc.
Krishnappa is still an activist. Wherever there is any problem involving farmers, he will be there with his trade mark green towel on his shoulders. He is holding a position in the Karnataka State Farmers’ Association. He would be participating in all kinds of struggles for the benefit of farmers. On one such occasion, in 2003, he happened to attend the training session conducted by Subash Palekar at Hubli wherein only, he came to realize the fact that the real cause of farmers’ suicide was because of loss incurred on lands due to chemical process of cultivation.
He was able to clearly understand that the whole cause of failure of harvest and the consequential loss was due to the methods of chemical farming and insecticides costing more and resulting in less production, followed by minimum selling price and virtual loss. Having found the solution that lay in organic farming, he started advocating the same though there was not much of encouraging response.
When he shared this negative response with Palekar the latter simply told him to continue practising organic farming so that people would be convinced when they saw the result in action.
As per his advice, Krishnappa started focussing on zero budget farming from 2006 in his three acres of land. He used to approach Palekar for consultation frequently.
Palekar’s forestry methodology:-
Krishnappa learnt two methodologies under zero budget farming. One is yield-based and the other is forestry. The first one refers to cultivation of annual crops such as paddy, sugarcane and banana from which we can get the harvest and yield annually. The other one refers to ‘do nothing of farming’, i.e. self-reliant farming practice according Palekar. According to this, the soil will replenish and revive its own vitality over a period of time and it is known as ‘Paleker model’. Krishnappa implemented this forestry method in his 3 acre land.
Krishnappa says that his forestry produces carbon and nitrogen. The humus in the soil increases the amount of carbon as a result of which 6 lit of evaporation of water is prevented which is equivalent to saving of 6 lt of water. This is an automatic process. In his 3 acres of this land he and his people get inside only for harvesting; all the rest of the activities are getting done naturally. Krishnappa ‘s farm activity enters the 10th year and he has been successfully cultivating coconut, betel nut, pepper, coffee, orange, sweet lime etc.
Palekar’s open encomium:-
A few years back, Palekar visited Krishnappa’s farm and gave him a few suggestions in terms of planting 2-tier live fences with silver oak, teak, malai vembu trees in one tier and agathi, seetha and drumstick trees in another tier. Krishnappa carried out his suggestions immediately and these trees are standing tall in his farm. Recently, Palekar commended Krishnappa’s sincere and dedicated efforts and termed his farm as a ‘Model Zero Budget Forestry’. Krishnappa is naturally proud to share that many college/school students and nature lovers throng his farm to know the details.
Krishnappa owes to Pasumai Vikatan for having made him known in Tamil Nadu by publishing a detailed article about him in 2007 issue. He has converted his land as a successful and income-yielding zero-budget farm in about 9 years. He has also trained around 500 farmers in Mysore and is planning to make his village as a full-fledged zero-budget farm in future. Krishnappa participated in the Paumai Vikatan Agri Expo that took place in Trichy on February 12, 2016 and shared his success story directly with the audience.
Mulching – a ‘must’ factor:-
Krishnappa highlights the mulching factor as the most responsible one for the success of his zero-budget concept. There are four types such as Soil mulching, Leaves mulching, Life mulching and Natural mulching. He shares the key point that the mixed mulching methodology has only helped him in making it a success. It has resulted in saving of considerable amount otherwise required to be spent on fertilizers.
This must be done before sowing operation; otherwise it will cut off the roots. For this, a big pit measuring 25 ft.length and 3 ft.depth must be made in which dry and broken branches of trees, coconut leaves, residues of fruits must be put and covered with sand. After a few months the decayed materials will continue to give the required carbon for many years.
Leaves dropped from plants and trees or dying out naturally will continue to be useful for microorganisms.
Thattai payaru and urad dal seeds will be sown which will absorb nitrogen from air and give it to the plants and trees. This is called Life mulching.
It is a natural happening. The shades of tall trees prevent the heat from causing evaporation. So much so the moisture is retained on earth which helps in the creation and promotion of biodiversity.
Krishnappa’s amazing income details:-
He is growing 528 betel nut trees, 30 coconut trees, 30 sweet lime trees and 250 coffee plants in an acre. As regards betel nut trees, he gets a yield of 10 kg which he can sell for Rs.30/- per kg. He receives a sum of Rs.1,58,400/- from betel nut trees @ Rs.300/- per tree.
Regarding coconut trees, he reaps 150 coconuts from a tree and from 30 trees, he gets a total number of 4,500 coconuts which he is able to sell @ Rs.9/- per coconut, thus collecting a total amount of Rs.40,500/-. in all.
Krishnappa gets a yield of 1500 kg sweet lime fruits @ 50 kg.per tree from a total available trees of 30. At a selling price of Rs.10/- per fruit, he is able to get Rs.15,000/- from sweet lime fruits. From the coffee plants of 250, he gets 500 kg.of coffee seeds @ 2 kg.per plant. Again, when he sells @ Rs.60/- per kg.he gets a total amount of Rs.30,000/- Therefore, from his farm consisting of betel nut, coconut, sweet lime and coffee seeds, he get an annual income of Rs.2,43,900/- from an acre of land. He further confirms that he will be able to benefit from kuru milagu,orange, ginger etc.cultivation from next year.
Palekar’s model in place:-
Though Krishnappa has employed his forestry in about 3 acre area, he has simply adopted Palekar’s model of 36 x 36 ft.area wherein he has to plant 130 trees in the fashion of one each of coconut, orange, sweet lime, betel nut, coffee or coco and 21 trees each of gliricidia, pepper, vanilla and drumstick tree. This must be followed by periodical irrigation with the mixture of jeevamirda karaisal once a fortnight.
Zero budget concept in Africa:-
Chetan Kempa Gowda of Pannur is now at Rwanda(for last 4 years) in Africa where he has joined hands with his friend who has taken 300 acre of land under lease for paddy cultivation. Though Chetan is against chemical farming, the practice in Rwanda is under chemical pattern of cultivation only. Chetan has now implemented zero budget farming in 10 acres with his friend’s approval. The country cows available in Rwanda are being used for necessary raw materials and inputs. He has been teaching zero budget farming practice to the local farmers. All the trainees are excited. Chetan plans to host a special feast for the local people with the food procured from the zero budget cultivation. He has an ambitious plan to invite Palekar and his team for offering an intensive training to the local farmers on zero budget farming.
No wonder Krishnappa in Pannur and Chetan in Rwanda would become heroes of zero budget farming practice, thanks to Subash Palekar, the Creator of Zero Budget Farming practice in India.