In the last two parts, we learnt about Nagaratnam Naidu from Telengana state, who has been in agriculture for the past 26 years and who has spread the fame of organic farming up to the United States of America. Hereunder it continues as a conclusion.
He started sharing about the details of selling the produce harvested at his farm and the income he earns out of them. “I have earned money and fame from my 12 acres of land. I have built a fabulous house in Dhilsukh Nagar, one of the posh areas in Hyderabad. It’s not that easy. But I made it possible through the income I gained from agriculture. I have made a painting on the glass wall of my house depicting the rural agriculture ecosystem. All my wardrobes are filled with the awards I received so far. I can say proudly that i earned all these accolades only through agriculture.
Income from my farm is more than rupees 25 lakhs per annum. Right now it has gone down because of lack of rain for the last two years. Now the primary income generators are paddy, papaya, vegetables, orchids, mango, greens, Moringa, tamarind, coconut and milk. Last year my income was rupees 17 lakhs. There are two families living in the farm for farm work. Expenditure on ploughing, labour and seed will be rupees 5 lakhs per year. Therefore per year the profit will be rupees 15 lakhs.
I don’t bring any material from outside to my farm. Mostly I produce them in my farm itself. Therefore the input expenditure comes down. Not many organic shops are in Hyderbad as seen in Chennai. They are lesser in numbers. Therefore, people visit directly to my farm or home to buy the produce. Only the balance is sold to the organic shops.
It is usual that most of the organic farmers grow the products and then search desperately for markets to sell them. People will swarm the farm if we inform them promptly about the organic products that we produce at our farms. We can easily sell the products at a reasonable price. Farmers of five or ten can come together and sell the harvested products at the district capitals. With the current infrastructure facilities it is not difficult to send the produce to the large cities and towns. We can find out where there is demand for those products and sell them accordingly”. Then he continued to describe about the simple agriculture techniques he has been following at his farm.
Castor seeds for micronutrient In organic farming.
It is a usual practice to use oil cakes to enrich micronutrients of the soil in organic cultivation. The oil cakes are low in nutrients as the oil is pressed out of the seeds. But the castor seeds can be soaked in water for two days and supplied to the crops after having crushed or mortared them. For an acre of paddy about 20 kg is required and 50 gram powder for each plant of vegetables and orchids”. He has also planted onion and tomato crops along the bunds of irrigation channels around the growing mango seedlings.
“The water supplied to mango trees is adequate for the vegetable crops surround them. The wastes of these crops can be spread as mulch around the mango trees”.
Mangoes in gift packs
Though use of rice is high here as it is in Tamilnadu the people of Andhra and Telengana generally consume only raw rice, even for Idli and Dosa. Use of boiled rice is very rare. I store paddy for about 7 months and only then I will make rice out of them. It adds taste to it. That’s why there is heavy demand for my rice. I sell them in 5 kg and 10 kg bags and I sell a kg of rice for rupees 45-50.
During mango season I pack mangoes in 1 kg, 2 kg and 5 kg boxes and sell them as gift packs. Many people buy them as gifts to their close ones. That facilitates increase in sales”, thus he concluded.
Nammazhvar – SRI Ambassador
“I know Nammazhvar, an organic farming scientist, for the past 20 years. He used to call me ‘baby’. Yes, I understood that those who follow organic farming are his babies only. He used to appreciate my farm and introduce me in all programs organized in Tamilnadu and other states.
Nammalwar used to introduce me as “Nagaratnam Naidu from Andhra is a pioneer in India in regard to practicing SRI method in paddy. He made a record by raising 90 bags of paddy per acre through that method.’’ Likewise he used to disseminate the method through many programs on organic farming as an Ambassador. He was one of the root causes of popularizing the method. He honored me by attending most of the appreciation functions organized on behalf of my achievement and always acclaimed about my organic farming endeavors.
“Often he used to emphasize that the customers should be satisfied 100% with what we cultivate and give them. I adhere to it till now. That’s why the customers who have been visiting my farm from the beginning continue to buy the products till now. He was the one who scientifically proved how Amudhakkaraisal will help the soil organically. He was the only reason for me to be committed to organic farming to a great extent. I had a lot of conversations and debates with him regarding organic farming. He used to explain things like a teacher to his students, like guru-sishya. That’s why he still remains my ‘Guru’.
“Clean air, clean water and fertile soil are the objectives of Nammazhvar. He believed that this could come only from the farmers and only farmers could save the Earth. Today, governing bodies speak about ‘Swachh Bharath’ and also advertise about it. He emphasized about it long ago. He is no more now. But his objectives shall live forever”. He was overwhelmed on concluding.
Some suggestions about paddy
Hereunder are the details about single sapling method in rice cultivation as described by him.
“Water should not be retained in this single sapling method. But the land should be wet all the time. Retention of water may lead to diseases. By this method, it is enough to just keep the saplings on the floor as such. There is no need to strongly implant it on the soil. Planting them at finger depth pits will affect the roots getting spread out. Sprouting rate will also come down. The workers who plant them should avoid walking on the land much. While planting, there should be a foot gap for each 2 meters. During water scarcity, it is enough to water that one foot gap to save the crops. That gap will also facilitate movement of workers.
While mulching the land using neem and other leaf wastes it is better to cut them at a length of one foot. The mulch wastes will degrade gradually, first the leaves, then the skin of the sticks and then the sticks and that will facilitate crops getting continuous supply of nutrients at equal proportion. After harvesting paddy, the field can once again be irrigated and crops be grown. That return from the second will be lower than the first harvest but it will provide adequate fodder for cattle. Ploughing and planting works can also be avoided.
Commercial varieties of paddy
At present, I have planted 145-day old BPT-5204 variety of paddy. Its yield will be more in Andhra. It is sold high commercially. There is high price for 110-day old Hamsa variety too. Based on the market need I also grow traditional varieties of paddy.
93 year old farming lady
His mother, Munirathnamma who is 93 years old, extends her full support at his farm. She travels for 60 km daily by bus. We spoke to her. “This body is used to farming from early days. So, I don’t like to be confined at home.
I visit the farm daily and help the workers in all farm activities including weeding, watering and grazing the cows. I eat rice and idly, like any other persons in the farm. But everything is grown naturally here. That is the strength that encourages me to work. I became humped as I was hit by a cow, a few years ago. Otherwise no one can compete with me in the farm work”. She proudly shared it.
Rain and crop
“There are always many crops in my farm. But I cultivated lesser number of crops as there is inadequate rain this year in Telengana district. I have planted papaya, orchids, and limited crops of paddy, tomato, cucumber, brinjal and gongura in my farm. Besides, there are permanent crops of mango, coconut and teak”. Thus shared, Nagaratnam Naidu.
(This article originally written by Jayakumar in Tamil for Pasumai Vikatan in Dec 2015 has been reproduced in English by V Amalan Stanley)