Many farmers concentrate on the cultivation of vegetables, mainly because of guaranteed returns on a daily basis. Majority of farmers choose pandal vegetables with bitter gourd, chinese okra, snake gourd etc. One such farmer is Prabhusankar who belongs to Chullimedu village which is adjacent to Arachalur in Erode district. Particularly, Prabhusankar uses the type of ‘kottara pandal’ system which is a triangle-shaped one.
In fact, Prabhusankar did not like farming operations done by his father in about 12 acres of nanjai land due to too many uncertainties. Initially he left agriculture and started lorry business. Now he owns around 60 tanker lorries with good returns. However, he has now come back to farming operations being attracted by the organic farming methods.
Prabhusankar’s return to agriculture is interesting. One of his college friends Senthilkumar had organized a ‘Live Organic Farmers Association’ consisting of 400 members in Erode. This association is engaged in direct selling of organic agri produce to customers without the interference of middlemen. They conduct meetings and workshops on organic farming practice. One such meeting which Prabhusankar attended enlightened him on the ill effects of chemical farming and insecticides. Later, Prabhusankar started reading Pasumai Vikatan regularly and cultivated more interest in organic farming. He has now virtually come back and started handling agricultural operations, thus satisfying his father too.
Prabhusankar briefs the cultivation process:-
Out of 12 acres of land, Prabhusankar uses only 1 acre under organic farming practice based on the tips he has gathered from Pasumai Vikatan books of old edition in regard to low-cost kottarapandal system. While he has constructed 6 such pandals at a cost of Rs.10,000/- each, he is cultivating different vegetables such as bitter gourd, snake gourd, beans and ribbed gourd on a rotational basis, As of now, he is using two pandals each for ribbed gourd and snake gourd and one pandal each for bitter gourd and beans respectively.
Prabhusankar plucks vegetables from two pandals on alternate days spread in 30 cents. He gets 80 kg vegetables at one pluck and so far he has plucked 700 kg. He sells them at the organic stores only. For the first lot that he sent to the stores, it has fetched Rs.50/- per kg for 400 kgs.of vegetables and for the second lot of 300 kgs. he has got Rs.27/- per kilo. Thus he has received a total sum of Rs.28,100/- from the overall sale.
He still expects to receive 1,500 kg.vegetable which if he is able to sell at the rate of Rs.30/-, he will be able to receive a sum of Rs.45,000/-. Thus, he will be able to reap a total sum of Rs.73,100/- from the holding of 30 cents land in his possession.
To sum up, Prabhusankar will be able to get a net sum of Rs.43,100/- after deducting Rs.30,000/- of expenses which includes making of pandal expenses. This pandal expense will not be there for the next 5 years. If the price of vegetables goes up in the market, he will be able to get more returns naturally. He stands to benefit more by means of rotational cultivation process.
Construction of kottarapandal:-
Prabhusankar explains the method of constructing the kottarapandal and cultivating ribbed guard in an area of one acre as under:-
The selected ground should be irrigated firmly and pandals should be erected. Drip irrigation process must be done. On both sides of the pandal, square pits of 3/4 ft and depth of ¾ ft. must be dug with an intemediary distance of 1 ½ ft. distance in-between should be created. In each pit, 1 kg. Organic manure should be deposited.
30 ml.panchakavyam should be mixed in 1 lt. water and the ribbed gourd seeds should be immersed in that. Then it must be dried in shade. These seeds are required to be planted in each pit and covered with sand and must also be irrigated sufficiently based on the moisture content.
After 9 days the seeds will start sprouting and after 15 days, the creepers will start spreading. They must be left over the pandal.
On 10th, 25th, 40th and 55th days respectively, 30 ml. panchakavya should be mixed in 1 lt. water and half lite mixt should be poured at the root each plant.
On 15th,30th,45th and 60th days respectively, 300 ml.panchakavya should be mixed in 10 lt water and sprinkled on the plants
On 25th and 50th days respectively, 300 ml.arappu buttermilk karaisal should be mixed in 10 lt. water and sprinkled over all the plants. After 40 days flowering will occur and after 60 days offspring will be generated.
Essence-sucking insects will attack during the initial stage and flowering stage. It would be useful to counter the attack of the insects by mixing equal quantities of dried ginger, garlic and green chillies in powder form with 10 lt. water ( 100 ml mix with every 10 litres water)and sprinkling essence over the plants. In addition to the above, 10 kg. cotton cakes and 5 kg.groundnut cakes should be mixed in water to the extent of immersion and it must be allowed to cool down in a vessel until it becomes like a gruel. With this 500 gm. acospirillam and phosphobacteria should be mixed. This essence should be poured in the root of each plant on 55th, 70th,85th,100th,115th and 130th days respectively, followed by firm irrigation. This essence will help the plants to give good output, if continuously given.
On and after 65 days from the day of seeding, fully grown vegetables will become available for plucking. Plucking can be done on alternate days for and up to 140 days.
How to construct kottarapandal?:-
2 bamboo poles of 16 ft. each should be planted in downward form of reverse of english letter V and on top, both the poles should be nailed strongly. On the bottom side, both the points should be tied with gunny bag immersed in tar so as to prevent from the attack of termite. The distance between both the poles at the bottom should be minimum 10 ft. distance. All the poles should be strongly tied with ropes like a net. Like this, 20 pairs of bamboo poles should be erected with 10 ft. distance between each other. After leaving 7 ft. distance again, the next row of pandal can be erected.
Thus the innovative erection of kottarapandal and cultivation through pandal vegetables have benefited Prabhusankar enormously.
(This article written by Palanisamy in Tamil for Pasumai Vikatan issue dt 25/12/17 has been reproduced in English by P.S.Ramamurthy)