Pasumai Vikatan showcases the success stories of several individuals in agriculture from time to time. One such person is Suriyan Jose of Ernakulam who has achieved amazing feat in the cultivation of pomegranate under organic farming practice.
Suriyan Jose’s land lies in Kazhuthaimedu near Gudalur in Theni district. It was a dry land five years ago when Suriyan bought it. Now it is a model farm which is visited by foreigners also for its enchanting surroundings.
Kazhuthaimedu is 3 ½ kms. on the right side from Thammanampatti Vilaku which is 7 KMs in the Gudalur-Kumuli national highways. Suriyan’s farm is stylishly known as ‘Harvest Fresh’, surrounded by hills and valleys.
Dense forest to pomegranate farm:-
At the time Suriyan bought this land it was nothing short of a dense forest which has now been converted into a beautiful pomegranate farm with its own natural surroundings. Suriyan is originally engaged in export business in his place and since he is equally interested in agriculture, he has taken lot of efforts to locate and buy a vast portion of land in this place.
While the total area is 35 acres, he has used 30 acres for 10,000 pomegranate plants out of which 7,500 have started yielding harvest. 2 acres of papaya and the rest of the land portion is arranged in an integrated manner including cattle shed, packing room, shelter for the workers, farm house, farm pond and nests for the birds.
Suriyan gives an analytical schedule as under:-
- 350 to 436 plants in an acre
- Cost of one plant is Rs.150/-
- Cost of maintenance of one plant per year is Rs.200/-
- 10 kg.output from each plant per year
- Cost of fruit per kilo is Rs.120/-
- Annual profit from one plant is Rs.1,000/-
- Annual profit from an acre is Rs.2.5 lakhs
Suriyan confirms that he adopts organic farming practice only Its nature is that the outer skin of the pomegranate would appear with lines and scratches but whereas if it is under chemical farming, the outer skin would reflect with a shine. Though initially his customers were hesitating to buy his products because of lack of shine, they have subsequently realized that his fruits are only tastier with more pods. Moreover, the colour would be absolute red like blood colour. He has found a good market for his fruits in Kerala as well has he has started exporting also..
Suriyan candidly explains that pomegranate needs to be maintained like a newly-born baby. The type of pomegranate that he grows is called Pakva. He has planted the trees with a distance of 12 x 10 ft. as well as 10 x10 ft. in between. He says he has taken expert inputs from internet and specialists in organic farm practice including experienced professionals.
Suriyan has taken much care in maintaining his farm. He has country poultry, geese, Guinea fowl, rabbit, fish etc. He maintains Kasaragod type cows which are small in size. He prepares the jeevamirda karaisal from the urine of these cows which are very effective.
Suriyan says that one must take extreme and consistent care in rearing the pomegranate plants if more harvest is desired. Mere watering and manuring will not be enough. One should understand the nuances involved in this and provide that much care and caution. That is how Suriyan promotes his farm. He gives the details as under:-
No.of fruits from one plant 10 kg.
Average selling price per kilo Rs.120/-
Total amount receivable from one plant Rs.1,200/-
LESS expenses Rs. 200/-
Net receivable amount Rs.1,000/-
No.of plants available 7,500 Nos.
Total profit received from 30 acres Rs.1,000 x 7,500 = Rs.75,00,000/-
Per acre profit Rs.2,50,000/-
Excess water should not be given for pomegranate plants
Watering should be done only after drying. It should be a repeat and rotation process
Each time, a quantity of 15 lt.water should be given
Repeat watering should be done only after it gets dried completely
If more watering is given, flowers will fall down
Farm manure, coconut fibre residue manure and earthworm manure should be put on rotational basis once in 3 months.
In the case of farm manure we can put 15 kg. per plant and others only 5 kgs. each per plant
Organic Farm Practice for Pomegrate:-
The farm supervisor John Thomas says they have the Kasaragod and Kangeyam country cows as their cattle for preparation of jeevamirdham karaisal using their urine. In addition to this, they use farm residues, coconut fibre residues for compost preparation for organic manure. Cooking gas is produced from country cows’ dung. Mulching is widely used for all trees. They procure insecticides and farm manure from outside so that the overall cultivation expenses are less. John confirms that their pomegranate farm has the authentic organic certificate to their credit.
Pomegranate will grow in any soil except for clay
10 x 10 ft. Distance between plants is ideal
2 ft.square and 2 ft.depth pits must be created and dried initially
Put 10 kg.farm manure and 5 kg.earthworm manure in each pit and plant the seedlings
Once in three months 5 kg.earthworm manure should be put for each plant
From the third month, 200 lt.jeevamirdha karaisal should be poured along with drip water irrigation once a week
In 6 months’ time flowering will occur. It must be withered away
Minimum 24 months is required for allowing the flowers to grow as fruits; if it is done earlier than this period, the growth of the plant will be affected
On the sixth month, there will be more branches
Leaving 4 or 5 strong branches, the rest must be weeded out
Until it starts sprouting, once in six months, weeding must be adopted
Once sprouting starts, annual weeding is enough
From the time of flowering, harvest can be done only after 160 to 180 days
Each year one month rest must be given to the plant
Preferably, no watering should be given in December and the plants should be allowed to wither away
In January watering can be resorted to so that more flowering leading to more harvest will result
In July harvest can be done which can be continued till November end
As usual, rest must be given in December
Normally, fruit flies and some bacteria will attack pomegranate
Bio medicine or organic insecticide can be used to drive them out
Insects can be controlled by the use of solar lamps sparks or turmeric based sheets
‘Fruit boral’ is one of the diseases that will attack pomegranate. It will create black holes in the fruit.
To do away with the above, John says that we can take 200 lt.water and mix it with 500 gm.each of tryco-derma virti, pseudomonas and sprinkle over the plants
Harvest Fresh – Tourist Spot:-
This is an exclusive creation of Suriyan for the benefit of general tourists, foreigners, local agriculturists and students by means of which he aims to promote organic farming practice among the young agriculturists. Visitors can visit this farm, stay and spend a few days, go around the working places, eat the fruits and enjoy their sojourn to their heart’s content. He has included the facility of cart ride inside the farm to have a natural environment for the visitors. He charges a very nominal amount for this purpose. Many foreigners also do visit and enjoy their experience in this cosy farm.
Doubtless, Suriyan Jose’s field victory is remarkable!
(This article appeared in Pasumai Vikatan Tamil magazine in Oct 2014 has been reproduced in English by P.S.Ramamurthy)