There are innumerable farmers switching to organic farming, thanks to the growing awareness about the benefits of organic farming. This is followed by the implementation of projects on the natural farming methods by both central and state government authorities. One of those government projects is Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana, aiming to encourage traditional environmental friendly farming methods. This has been promulgated by the central government and the same was adopted in Tamil Nadu in 2015. Venkatachalam is one such farmer from Dharmapuri district, who has switched to organic farming, cultivating champanki (Michelia champaka) flowers by joining with this project.
In the way to Rayakottai from Dharmapuri, Somanahalli village is situated at a distance of 16 km. Further, one kilometre on its left remains the village, B.Kollahalli. The champanki garden is situated amidst the farms of sugarcane, tapioca and samandhi (Marigold) flowers, in the village. Venkatachalam welcomes us happily and took us around his farm explaining his project.
“Farming is my full-time profession. The land here is fertile with a combination of red, clay and coarse soils. The sugar content of the sugarcane grown in this part of the land is high. Based on that credential the Palakodu Cooperative Sugar Mill was established. Sugar cane is grown widely in this region eying on the sugar mill. I have also planted sugarcane in two acres of my land. Additionally, paddy, marigold, champanki and groundnut are also being cultivated.
In the beginning, I was also cultivating using chemical inputs. In 2016, Assistant Director of Agriculture, Palakodu, Mr Vijayakumar explained about ‘Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana’, urging us to join with the project. I joined the project half-heartedly as we were informed strictly not to use chemical fertilizers and pesticides. About fifty farmers of our village joined together and formed ‘B. Kollahalli Traditional Farmers Association’.
After forming of the association we were taken to Hyderabad and other parts of Tamil Nadu where organic farming practices have been followed. In addition to helping us getting funds for procuring farm inputs the organizers personally came to our farms and taught us about preparing enriched farmyard manure, Panchakavya, Amudhakkaraisal, ten-leaf karaisal. I was advised to add more cow urine to the preparations as I have only hybrid breeds of cattle. That means, if I have to use 5 litres of local breed cows, I need to use 10 litres of urine from hybrid cows. By using natural farm inputs I began to gain more yield from the farm. I was made to lead the Association as I have been showing more interest in the project. Now I’m completely into natural farming”. Having briefed about the beginning of his story he continued to go further.
“I have five acres of land in total. In that, Champanki is grown in one acre and 20 cents. The remaining land is grown with Marigold whose harvest has just now been completed. After switching to organic farming I started with paddy, at first. I could get only 30 bags of paddy in one acre. After that, I planted ragi crop, Kezhvaragu. Now, I have planted Champanki. If we grow Champanki after harvesting ragi from the same land, there will be rich growth of its tuber, without fungal infestation.
There is no problem in selling flowers in the districts of Dharmapuri and Salem. So, I always opt for flower cultivation as a practice. I grow both Champanki and Marigold. During the festivals like Vinayakar Chathurthi, Ayudhapooja the sale of flowers will be at its peak. This time, the sale of Marigold peaked up to Rs 160 per kg and Champanki reached Rs 300 per kg. Earlier, I used to cultivate a traditional variety of Marigold. It had a rich fragrance. But its yield was low. Therefore, I have now planted an enriched variety called ‘Prajval’. The tubers of this kind of variety costs about Rs 25,000 per ton. It will provide a rich yield. I planted this crop during last March (Panguni). I have been harvesting it for the last three months”. He started sharing about the income and expenditure of his venture.
“Champanki stands in one acre and 20 cents. I have been harvesting the flowers since August. The yield was low during August and slightly increased during September. On average, I could harvest about 10 kg of flowers daily. Ever since I have been harvesting about 15 kg every day. Well-irrigation is the only source of water. The well has only less amount of water now as there was no rain during the season. Had we got more water the yield would have also been more. So far we have gathered about 800 kg of flowers. One kg of the flower was sold at the rate of Rs 30 to 300. With that price, we could earn about Rs 50,000 during these three months. We could earn about Rs 27,000 of income only during October. Henceforth we are sure to gain Rs 30,000 worth of returns. Whatever we could earn so far has evened the expenditure on its production and whatever we are going to earn henceforth will only be our profits. The cost of farm inputs is also low as they are produced naturally from the farm itself. If the farm is maintained properly we will be able to continue harvesting for the next four months”. Thus he concluded.
“At the beginning, I was half-hearted to have ventured the natural farming method through Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana offered by the government. But now I could truly realize its benefits. The cultivation cost has really come down after switching over to organic farming. I must thank the agriculture officers who urged us to join the project, making us switch over to organic farming practices”. He bid farewell to us.
Venkatachalam, 70946 10613
Way of Farming Practices
Farming methods to cultivate Prajval variety of Champanki as described by Venkatachalam are given here as lessons.
There is no specific season for Prajval variety of Champanki for planting. It can be planted at any time of a year. As the flower sale of it will be at its peak during September and October, it is advisable to plant it during March. Sow ragi or any other grain among the nine of its constituents before planting Champanki. After they grow considerably, plough the land along with them. After that, plough the land in double rows using five-plough. Sprinkle 250 kg of enriched farmyard manure and plough the land using Rotavator. This is followed by double ploughing and keep bars with 2 feet distance in between the rows. In order to facilitate proper irrigation, keep a channel for every seven bars of rows. Moisten the rows of ploughed land and sow the tubers with a gap of one foot in between. After the fourth day of sowing, the plants will sprout. Keep irrigating the land once in a week. Weed out the land on day 10 and add 250 kg of enriched farmyard manure. Keep adding 250 kg of farmyard manure once in every 15 days.
From day 15, mix 200 litres of Amuthakkaraisai or Jeevamirtham along with the irrigation water, for every 15 days. Similarly, continue to irrigate it by mixing 250 ml of Panchakavya in 10 litres of water.
Weed out the land on day 30, 60 and 90. If the crop is affected with the tip-burn disease, sprinkle Thaemore karaisal on the plants. If it is affected with leaf lice and other insect pests, sprinkle cow urine or extract of ten-leaves. The flowers can be harvested from 90th day. Two labourers are needed to harvest an acre of land. Within a maximum period of three hours, harvesting can be completed.
Enriched Farm Yard Manure
Mix together, about 250 kg of farmyard manure, 2 kg of Trichoderma viridie, 2 kg of Pseudomonas Sp., 1 kg of Azospirillum, 1 kg of Rhizobium and sprinkle Amuthakkaraisal or Jeevamirtham every day on it. Keep mixing the content for 10 days and the enriched farmyard manure is ready. It helps in facilitating the growth of earthworm and also enriches the soil so that there is a rich yield.
Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana
“This is the project is exclusively meant for encouraging the farmers to opt organic farming. This is a three-year programme initiated in 2015. This concludes this year. During its implementation, there are four organic farming groups formed in Dharmapuri district and about 200 acres of land came under organic farming.
With the new regulations being implemented, the project gets extended to other eight districts including Salem, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri, Virudhunagar, Pudhukottai, Theni, Ramanathapuram and Nagapattinam. As per the new regulations, Rs 4,800 is provided to farmers in the first year towards the preparation of farm inputs and transforming the land to organic farming; during the second year, Rs 4000 and third year Rs 3,664 is provided to them. Besides, Rs 20,000 is provided to each farm association to gain training on organic farming and also Rs 500 per acre towards procuring seeds.
Through the Agency for Agriculture and Horticulture Farm Producers of the Tamil Nadu government, we have planned to buy the organic products from the organic farmers at a 15% premium with equal pricing, and also form TOP (Tamil Nadu Organic Products) shops to sell the organic products with equal pricing to the customers. By utilizing these provisions and working continuously for another three years, the returns can be high through organic farming practices.
There is an allowance to get included in the project up to 5 acres of land. But only when farmers come together as an association, they can realize the benefits of this project. We also guide the organic producers to sell their farm produce by joining with the organic shoppers. Each association should have a minimum of 50 acres of land and each association should have a minimum of ten farming members. Each farmer should have a minimum of one acre of land. Those who have more piece of land can allot a portion of it to this project.
Chemical fertilizers and pesticides are strictly prohibited in the project area. At the same time, the organic cultivation technologies and practices should be properly complied with. Every detail of converting the land to organic cultivation should be accurately documented. We provide biological manures needed for the project through Agriculture Offices to the farmers.
In this year, it is planned to create about 150 such associations through the Agriculture Department and 50 associations through Horticulture Department. Those who wish to join the project can approach the respective offices of the Joint Director, Agriculture or Joint Director, Horticulture along with their Chitta, Aadhar card, Bank book and photographs.
For contact, Velmurugan Cell phone: 99524 17105
(This article written in Tamil by D Jayakumar for Pasumai Vikatan issue date 10/12/18 has been translated in English by V Amalan Stanley)