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₹ 27 lakhs income per annum... an impressive organic farm in 37 acres!

ஜி.பழனிச்சாமி
V Amalan Stanley
தி.விஜய்

Aiming Rs 50 lakhs per annum … Sure of Rs 27 lakhs … an impressive organic farm in 37 acres

 Jegadesan
Jegadesan

Subhash Palekar, an ‘Organic Agriculture Exponent’, has been revolutionizing the organic farming in India by virtue of his unique natural agriculture methods. There are thousands of people who are getting into or switching to organic farming, having been attracted by his natural agriculture methods. One such is the family of Jegadesan, belonging to Kerala state.

Coconut Trees
Coconut Trees

Semmancherimalai Kadhiresan, a pioneer in natural farming, was the one who mentioned to us about the organic ventures of Jagadesan’s family. After having spoken to him, we travelled to his farm. The farm belonging to Jagadesan’s family, called ‘Ramar Farm’ is situated in Meenakshipuram village, Perumati Panchayat, Chitoor Circle, Palakad district.

The splendidly clear river, Azhiyar, showing its fishes at the bottom, was heading towards the west. Ramar Farm was cool under the shades of tall coconut trees, one kilometre away from the river. As soon as we arrived the farm, Jegadesan welcomed us happily, along with his sons, Gnana Saravanan and Sargunan, in untainted Kongu dialect.

“Once upon a time, Palakad region belonged to Tamil Nadu. We belong to the ancestral tribes of this region. So, Tamil is our mother tongue. Though we live in the district of Kerala, all our close relatives are living in Tamil Nadu”. Thus Jegadesan gave us the introduction and continued to speak about his farming ventures.

Cattles
Cattles

“We have 37 acres of land, here. In 26 acres of that land, there are about 1,800 coconut trees. All of them have crossed 30 years in age. Both the Kodai and Konga mazhai, the two respective monsoons such as South West and North East monsoons, will visit Kerala, every year without fail. Hence, ¾ of the year, here is rainy season only. So there is no scarcity for water. In olden days, rainfed cultivation was predominant in this area. Groundnut, ragi, tapioca were the primary crops of cultivation. It is a blessing that the perennial river source and vast pasture land are part of this region. This facilitated rich livestock rearing. The number of country cattle and buffaloes are numerous in this region.

We used to gather cow dung in a pit and use it as a base manure for rainfed crops, in every season. This ensured rich fertility of the soil. There was no need for using top manure for the crops. We used to get high yields. Once the harvest was over, we used to save the groundnut plant and ragi hays. During heavy rains, we could not send the cattle for grazing. These savings of plants used to help them as fodder during such times.

₹ 27 lakhs income per annum... an impressive organic farm in 37 acres!

As time passed by we switched from rainfed cultivation to growing coconut trees. With the availability of chemical fertilizers, need did not arise for the usage of farm yard manure. Cows were meant only for milk. But, it gives immense happiness to witness many youngsters turning towards natural farming methods”. As Jegadesan completed the introduction, Gnana Saravanan took over the conversation, and continued, “I was working in a multinational company, in the Human Resources Division, in Chennai. As I have hailed form a farming family I used to show interest in the information shared through social networks, like YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook, etc. Similarly, I used to read the interviews of the farmers in ‘Pasumai Vikatan’ with considerable interest. Only through those readings I nurtured attraction towards the agricultural principles held up by Subhash Palekar and Nammazhvar.

Then I participated in a training programme on Organic Farming organized by the Art of Living Centre in Bangaluru. It was a nine-day programme where we were taught extensively about the principles of natural farming recommended by Subhash Palekar. I was able to get clarity about the need for non-poisonous food and also the harmful effects of chemical fertilizers. At the time of valedictory, some of the participants emphasized ‘at least in the future, we need to buy a small piece of land and do farming on our own. That is what our goal’. It occurred only then that if those who do not even own a piece of land can think of showing such an extent of interest in natural farming, why can’t I, having 37 acres of land, think of getting into natural farming.

 Jegadesan
Jegadesan

I was brooding over the idea and one day, I just left my job, I was doing for eight years and returned to my village. Immediately I began to transform my land into an organic farm. Many of my friends questioned me whether this farming venture would fetch me monthly salary that I was getting from my regular job. In order to address that issue, I spawned a plan of having a livestock farm.

The number of people procuring milch cows is lesser in Kerala. Kerala gets its milk only from Tamil Nadu. In Tamil Nadu one litre of milk is procured from farmers for Rs 20 only. But Milma, the affiliate of Kerala government, procures one litre of milk for Rs 35. Therefore, I thought, if I managed to establish cattle farm I would be able to earn a monthly income and got into it”. Continuing his conversation, Gnanasaravanan took us around the farm.

Milk Production from 22 Cows

We had planned to produce fodder before procuring cattle and therefore grown green fodder in three acres of land. After the green fodder had grown considerably we bought 22 hybrid cows for milk production. We bought 4 country breeds for home needs and also for input preparations. Currently we get 150 litres of milk daily. We send the entire volume of milk to Milma agency.

Jeevamirtham along with irrigation

We have kept ten barrels of 200 litres volume, nearby the well, in rows. Those ten barrels are connected with pipes. We prepare Jeevamirtham in those tanks and when we open the valve at the bottom of each barrel, it will mix with the irrigation water gradually and pass on to the fields. We provide Jeevamirtham for the entire grove with this set up, on weekly basis. Similarly, we prepare heavy Jeevamirtham and provide 2kg of it to each tree, twice in a month. We provide Jeevamirtham as well as heavy Jeevamirtham to green fodder in three acres and the vegetable plants in two acres. It is five years ever since we switched to natural farming. Wherever you dig out in the farm land there will be plenty of earthworms in clusters”. Gnanasaravanan demonstrated it by digging out the soil with his fingers and showed us the earthworms beneath the soil.

Preparation of Vermicompost

Followed by the farm visit, Gnanasaravanan took us to the place where vermicompost is prepared. He said, “We prepare vermicompost, here, using farm wastes and cow dung. There is high level of awareness in Kerala about the importance of non-poisonous food. This has made most of them to initiate growing their own vegetables at their backyard, through natural methods. Hence there is more demand for vermicompost in those places. But the production is inadequate. Most of its needs are fulfilled from Tamil Nadu. That is why we ventured into vermicompost production. We can generate 3 tons of vermicompost every month. By using cow dung we could generate gobar gas that supports our household cooking needs. The gobar waste sediments are mixed with bio fertilizers and use them for vegetable production. We have recently planted vegetable crops. They are yet to reach harvest stage. There is high demand for vegetables in Kerala. Of the 1,800 coconut trees, 500 are leased out for toddy production. The lease amount for each tree is Rs 300. From the trees of 1500, we pluck coconuts and we get 1,50,000 coconuts in a year.

Value addition with coconuts

Our next plan is to go for value addition of coconut oil and production of virgin oil. We made a trial run by selling the oil, produced from the mature coconut kernel of our farm. There is high demand in Kerala for our product.

Hence, we have initiated the process of establishing a wooden grinder with a capacity of generation 200 litres of oil per day. By younger brother, Sargunan, had worked in an IT company in Bengaluru. He too joined our farming venture, resigning from his job. Like us, there is our relative, Arul Vishnu Sundhan, who also had left his IT job and ventured into farming. When I was discussing with him, he mentioned about production of virgin oil. So, we have joined hands with him in virgin oil production. He has learnt about virgin oil production technology with the help of Coconut Development Board.

Currently, we have been producing virgin coconut oil by partnering with him. The product is well received by the customers. We distributed it to the shopping malls in Coimbatore, Thirupur and other cities. We have found out considerable market for the product. At present, we are producing ten litres of virgin coconut oil every month.

We increase the production based on the sales. The government of Kerala gave us the best farmer award for last year, appreciating our efforts in natural method of farming”. Then Gnanasaravanan spoke about the income from his venture.

“At the rate of Rs 35 per litre, we get Rs 5,250, every day from 150 litres of milk. The expenditure for the production in terms of fodder and maintenance will be Rs 2,200 daily. Deducting the expenditure, we will get a net profit of Rs 3,050 per day. Through cows we get a daily income of Rs 91,500, which turns out to be Rs 10,98,000 per annum. We produce 3 tons of vermi compost in a month and sell it for Rs 2 per kg. We get Rs 6,000 per month and for a year, it is Rs 72,000.

We get a monthly income of Rs 1,50,000 by leasing out 500 coconut trees for toddy production. And we get Rs 1,50,000 annually from the coconuts harvested from 1,300 trees. So, through coconut trees, we get Rs 20,00,000 as annual income.

We work in the farm along with our family members. So the expenditure is not significant. We spend Rs 4,00,000 per year towards farm labour, input production and maintenance. Currently, we get Rs 27,70,000 from 37 acres of land as profit”. Thus he concluded.

“Our next project is to expand the country cow farm, producing butter, buttermilk and ghee from its milk. The income will rise when the vegetable crops reach harvesting stage. If the sale of virgin oil and coconut oil goes up, then we could easily earn Rs 50,00,000 per year”. He was very confident about it.

Contact Saravanan, at his mobile number: 099626 88000

One Acre, one farmer!

We visited the Krishi Bhavan (Agriculture Office) functioning in the Perumatti Panchayat where the Ramar Farm of Gnanasaravanan is situated. We spoke to the official, Libi Antony, who works in the office. She said, “I studied agriculture from the Agriculture University in Coimbatore. So, I am well aware of Pasumai Vikatan.

The training on natural farming method as recommended by Subhash Palekar has happened many times in Kerala. The government of Kerala has sent its agriculture officials to attend this training. Our government has been yearning to make the whole state 100% as an organic farming state.

We have been identifying model organic farmlands to fulfil its purpose. Based on our objectives, we have identified the Ramar Farm belonging to the family of Gnanasaravanan, as a model farm in the Chitoor Taluk. We regularly send school and college students to the farm in order to impart awareness among them about the importance of natural farming.

Libi Antony
Libi Antony

We have been identifying model organic farmlands to fulfil its purpose. Based on our objectives, we have identified the Ramar Farm belonging to the family of Gnanasaravanan, as a model farm in the Chitoor Taluk. We regularly send school and college students to the farm in order to impart awareness among them about the importance of natural farming.

We have been identifying and collecting many seeds belonging to the traditional varieties of Kerala, such as Masoori, Mattai, Agamai, Modam, Seeragach chala, Raththa chala, Thavalaikkannan, Kanthagach chala, Navarai, and conserving them towards future development. Further, the government of Kerala has established a market called ‘Eco Shop’ at every village panchayat, selling natural inputs to the public.

Sunilkumar, Minister of Agriculture, Government of Kerala, has been doing video conferencing with the farmers, scheduling weekly one panchayat, discussing with them the problems being faced by them. Under the scheme of ‘One Acre, One Farmer’, we provide 50% subsidy for every farmer who is willing to come forward, taking up the project of opting organic farming in an acre of land. The government of Kerala also intends to include the organic farming methods based on the principles of Subhash Palekar to be included in the academic curriculum too”.

(This article written in Tamil by G Palanisamy for Pasumai Vikatan magazine dt 25/3/19 has been transcreated in English by V Amalan Stanley)