Agriculture is not an exception for innovation and enterprise to make one become successful.
Pichaya belongs to Pudukottai district and he has his farm measuring 4 acres at Mudukulam village in Kandarvakottai taluk. Normally, the farmers will avoid taking risks if the return is likely to be poor or the working cost more. But at the same time, an enterprising farmer like Pichaya will work out some strategies to overcome the challenges and make steady profit in his farm. For example, farmers will avoid white pumpkin cultivation during summer since it is very likely to be attacked and affected by leaf disease. But Pichaya takes suitable preventive measures and ensures that he makes the pumpkins available even during summer with assured profits.
Pichaya is a staunch believer in the practice of organic farming as a result of which the shape and size of the pumpkin is round, regular and full-fledged. This helps the vendors to cut the fruit to different sizes without waste. The full fruit is also bought as it is for warding off the evil eyes as per sentimental practice in the village. Hence the demand for his product is constant.
Pichaya belongs to agricultural family besides being a consultant for procuring quality standards certificate for farmers. He was growing eucalypts trees in his 5 acre land. He subsequently gave it up and started cultivating maize, groundnut etc. based on the inspiration that he got from Pasumai Vikatan. Now he is able to earn profit from his land under organic farm practice even though he does not have his own cows. The agricultural inputs are being bought and used by him from his friends and relatives.
Pichaya used drip water irrigation in the absence of adequate manpower so that the water reaches the root comfortably at all times. I am able to mix organic nutients thro drip irrigation.
Pichaya’s Statement of Income & Expenditure on 4-acres of cultivation of white pumpkins:-
Note: As drip water irrigation is a permanent investment it is not included in this
Even this year Pichaya decided to do pumpkin cultivation only after making enquiries in Ottanchathiram and Koyambedu markets regarding the ruling price and demand of pumpkins during summer.
Pichaya confirms having taken necessary precautions to strengthen the land in order to keep it safe from the attack of surrutai disease. He says he used goat residues, panchakavya, coal ashes liquid, marine algae water, fish amino acid and herbal insecticides under organic farm practice itself and by this method he was able to protect his land safely. Further, the natural inputs given to the plants through drip irrigation water mode helped the plants to grow strongly. Regarding the sale part of it, the vendors themselves started coming to his farm to buy the pumpkins, thus helping him save on transportation also.
During the first harvest, he was able to get 12,600 kilos output from his 4 acre land. Out of 1,000 kilos, 50 kgs. were considered as waste. Thus he was able to sell 12,000 kilos @ Rs.7/- per kg. thus receiving Rs.84,000/-. From the second harvest, he got 18,900 kg.output and he was able to sell 18,000 kg.@Rs.9/- per kg., thus getting Rs.1,62,000/-
During the third harvest, he got 10,500 kg. output and after wastage, he sold around 10,000 kg.white pumpkins @ Rs.8/- per kg., thus obtaining Rs.80,000/-
Pichaya happily concluded that out of his 4 acre land, he was able to get a total return of Rs.3,26,000/- @ Rs.81,500/- per acre. Thus, he got Rs.2,20,000/- as net income after deducting the total expenses amounting to Rs.1,06,000/-
Process of cultivation:-
Pichaya mentions the following procedure to cultivate pumpkins in an acre :-
White pumpkins will grow under any soil, particularly under red soil
5 tonne goat residues should be poured and ploughed firmly
No need to even out the land after ploughing
* Drip irrigation channels should be provided with a distance of 6 ft. in between two plants.
* With a distance of 40 cm, the drip containers must be provided in the channel
* Irrigation must be done for 5 mts and in the places where the moisture is stable, the seeds must be sown one by one.
* Normally, in one acre, 400 gms. mature white pumpkin seeds would be required for planting.
* On the 6th day, it will start sprouting
* On the 16th day, 2 lt.coal ashes liquid should be mixed in 200 lt. water and it must be poured through the drip irrigation process
* On the 17th day, 5 lt.panchakavya must be mixed in 200 lt.water and it must be poured through the drip irrigation process
* On the 18th day, 2 lt.marine algae water should be mixed in 200 lt. water and it must also be poured through the drip irrigation mode
* The same process should be repeated once in a fortnight thrice so that the roots would be stronger
* In the process, the inputs should be gradually increased by 30% each time
* After 25th day, the creepers will start spreading
* On the 26th day, 1 lt.coal ash liquid should be mixed in 150 lt.water and the same should be sprinkled on the leaves
* On the 27th day, 3 lt.panchakavya should be mixed in 150 lt.water and it must be sprinkled again
* On the 28th day, 1 lt.marine algae liquid should be mixed in 150 lt.water and the same should be sprinkled
* On the 31st day, 2 lt.fish amino acid must be mixed with 150 lt water and the same to be sprinkled
* The above process is required to be repeated once in a fortnight thrice through the leaves and each time the inputs must be increased by 30 %.
* The practice of ‘prevention is better than cure’ should be strictly followed in terms of avoiding the insects. Accordingly, herbal insecticides should be mixed in the water in the proportion of 2 lt in 150 lt. water and the same should be sprinkled on the 15th,25th,35th,45th and 55th days respectively
* From the 60th day onwards, harvest can be undertaken
* Harvest must be completed based on the growth of the white pumpkin
* The entire harvest will get over within 85 days from the day of sowing
Pichaya’s success story, based on the Pasumai Vikatan’s inputs, is bound to motivate other farmers in the cultivation of white pumpkins under organic method.
(Thi sarticle written by K Ramakrishnan in Tamil for Pasumai Vikatan in August 2017 magazine has been reproduced in English by P S Ramamurthy)