₹ 1,50,000 from an acre in 8 months...Fragrant profit from turmeric!
Gradually grinding paddy grains
Pongal pot in the midst of the field
Tying turmeric around it
Sing Kulavai while it boils and overflows!
This is a traditional folk song popular in Kongu region of Tamil Nadu, especially in rural areas. We will be able to understand the importance of turmeric during Pongal festival. It is a traditional practice of worship, keeping the recently harvested sugarcane and propitious turmeric. Turmeric is a good antiseptic too. That is why it is used in food items and also in cosmetics. It is also a crop of good profit to the farmers. Though it is cultivated in most of the districts of Tamil Nadu it is cultivated more in the districts of Coimbatore, Erode and Tirupur.
We met Mahendran, one of the pioneers of organic farming who has been cultivating turmeric for many years from Vadakkalur village, near Annur, Coimbatore district. He started describing about his practice. “This is my native village. There is 6 acres of cultivable land. Without fail we used to plant turmeric every year in all 6 acres. Due to severe drought, I could plant it only in one acre. The remaining 5 acres of land is kept untouched. Through monsoon failed us, drip irrigation and organic farming methods saved the turmeric planted. In the past, I was using pesticides and chemical fertilizers in excess for turmeric cultivation. Only after reading ‘Pasumai Vikatan’ I gained interest in organic farming. There is an organic farmer, Sundaram in Annur village who has been operating ‘Green Committee’ with the help of his friends. There was an announcement about one of his programs in Pasumai Vikatan and I participated in the program. We were taught about the ill effects of using pesticides and chemical fertilizers and also about the benefits of organic farming. Then only I joined with them and started following organic farming methods. I learnt many things related to organic farming by visiting many organic farms and practising it for the last four years. I have also applied for certification from Tamil Nadu organic certification agency. After inspecting my farm for the past three years, the agency has given me the certificate”. He continued after the preamble.
“The most important fact about turmeric is that it can be stored up to five years after harvesting. After boiling the tubers of turmeric, dry it for 15 days. Then clean and polish the dried tubers which can last for five years. It can be sold when there is a reasonable price happening in the market.
In an acre of land, 30-35 quintals of turmeric can be harvested. The current rate for is Rs 85 per kg. If 30 quintals are sold for the same rate the revenue would be 2.55 lakhs. The input cost in natural farming will be one lac and will have a profit of 1.55 lacs and at the same time yield will be more than that. That’s why I continue organic farming. It facilitates better crop yield and at the same time reduction in input cost”. He happily gave farewell to us while rooting out a well-grown turmeric plant.
Planting in Aani (June-July) with a gap of half a foot
Details of turmeric cultivation in an acre of land as described by Mahendran, are given below.
Month of Aani is favourable for turmeric cultivation. Red and coarse red soils are suitable for it. After summer ploughing of one acre of land sow Sanappu (Sunhemp) and Thakkaipoondu (Daincha, Sesbania aculeata) and fold and plough them on day 45. Keep the ploughed land air dry. After 45 days, make the land coarse by extensive ploughing and add to it 10 tons of farm yard manure, and make bars with 3 feet gap. With half a foot gap, plant the tubers treated with Panchakavya. Irrigate the land continuously weekly twice. Once in every 15 days, mix 3 litres of Panchakavya in 100 litres of water and irrigate it through drip method.
The leaf sheaths will grow lush by 60 days. At that time, spray 300 ml of Panchakavya in 10 litres of water using hand sprayer, either in the morning or evening, on the leaves. Due to drip irrigation, weeds will not grow. If weeds are found in spite of it they can be weeded out. After 70 days, the turmeric plants will branch out and provide shade. Then there will not be any weeds. On day 100, make a bund around the base of each plant. Add 75 kg of neem cake and ground nut cake each, at the base of each plant.
Turmeric plants can be affected by leaf burn or leaf dot diseases. The damage due to these diseases will be huge. Mix 1 kg each of ginger, garlic and, green chillies and grind them together. Add to it 7 litres of cow urine and soak it for 7 days and then filter it. Mix 100 ml of extract with 10 litres of water and spray it on the plant in such a way to soak the plant entirely with it. Spray it monthly once so as to prevent the plants from those diseases. After 8 months of planting the turmeric plant will grow up to 6 feet height with about 14 bunches of turmeric. That is the right time for harvesting it. Pluck out a plant to ensure adequate growth of the tubers and then accordingly harvest the other plants. Shed of the mud clinging to the tubers and store the turmeric after removing the sheaths.
(This article written by G Palanisamy for Pasumai vikatan in Tamil has been reproduced in English by V Amalan Stanley)