“Since my childhood I have been interested in agriculture. Despite having studied and worked with an IT company my heart was full, desiring with farming. That passion has transformed into a strong goal, that eventually made me a successful farmer”. Thus Sureshkumar from Cuddalore district, pats himself for his achievement. His farm is situated in TV Puthur village, en route to Jayankondam from Virudachalam. In one of the holidays we met with him while he was engaged in farm activities.
“I was born in a family that has been doing agriculture for generations. My father was doing agriculture in the ten acres of family owned land. Based on the income from that piece of land we could buy another thirty acres of land. I used to be helpful to my father with his farming activities from my childhood. I had completed Computer Science graduation and have been working with an IT company in Bengaluru. I come to the farm at once whenever there is a holiday. My father used chemical inputs while doing agriculture. But as soon as I began my farming activity I had decided to go for organic farming. The magazine that guided me in my organic journey is ‘Pasumai Vikatan’. I have attended many programmes on natural farming. What I have learnt from those programmes really prove helpful to me.
In the year 2013, I told my family that I was going to start organic farming in four acres of our land. But my family rejected my plan saying that ‘It is not possible to do agriculture, sitting in Bengaluru. That’s unwanted for you’. However, I was able to convince them and they offered me the four-acre piece of land. While I was gathering advice from other organic farmers I was told about using green manure, panchakaavya and biofertilizers. I started my journey of organic farming based on the information gathered from those organic farmers, what I read from Pasumai Vikatan and what I learnt from related training programmes”. Sureshkumar continued about his journey after the prelude.
“I had a good yield from cultivating some traditional rice varieties such as Athur kichili samba, Salem sanna, Maappillai samba and Swarnasoori. Followed by that as a rotational practice I had sown groundnut and gram varieties, after paddy. At the beginning of organic farming the workload was huge. But as soon as the soil turned to organic farming the workload has come down. By adhering to the seeding season we would be able to have a better yield. At present, I have been doing organic farming in ten acres of land. I have sown 60th Kuruvai variety of rice now in 3 acres. In one acre of land black Kuruvai variety of rice is sown. In another 3 acres I have already harvested A.S.T.16 (Ambai-16) variety of rice. And I have kept this three acre of land ready after having ploughed it”. Followed by this, Sureshkumar shared with us about the yield and income from his venture.
“From the three-acre of land where I had sown A.S.T.16 variety of rice, I could harvest 84 bags of paddy. I am planning to make it into rice and then sell it. If those 84 bags are made into rice, it will amount to 45 bags, 75 kg each bag. I am planning to sell them at the rate of Rs 50 per kg. I had sold at the same price earlier too. If the total of 3,375 kg rice is sold at the rate of Rs 50 per kg, I could earn an income of about Rs 1,68,750. If the expenditure from ploughing till making into rice amounts to Rs 66,000, then the net profit will be Rs 1,02,750”. The he concluded.
“Those farmers who mocked at me wondering how this guy, sitting in an air conditioned room could venture organic farming and desirous of succeeding in agriculture, have started looking at me and my crops with awe and surprise. There are a few who have also approached me to have some suggestions about organic farming. It is my wish to at least make ten farmers get into organic farming. I will try to make it happen at the earliest and then invite you. And I urge you to write about them too”. Assuring him to do so we wished him every success and bid farewell.
Single Straw Planting
Details shared by Sureshkumar on his organic farming venture in one acre of land with A.S.T.16 (Ambai-16) rice variety are provided hereunder.
Plough about 5 cent of land, make the soil coarse, arrange for saplings by containing water within the plot. Mix 900 ml of Panchakavya in 30 litres of water. Add to it 2 kg of paddy seeds and allow them to soak for 12 hours. Then drain off the water from the seeds thus soaked and pack them in a gunny bag and allow the bag undisturbed for 12 hours. Then take out the seeds and dry them on the floor, spreading them around. Add 20 gram of Azospirillum and 20 g of Phospho bacteria to a little amount of Panchakavya and sprinkle the mixture on the seeds being air dried. After some time, take the seeds and spread them on the field prepared for saplings along with the mixture. Spray water on them continuously using a sprinkler bucket.
On the eighth day of sowing, the seeds will sprout. Spray a mix of 300 ml of Panchakavya in 10 litres of water. Saplings of 15 to 20 days old can be used for transplantation. After adding 2 tons of farm yard manure, plough the chosen land of one acre for paddy cultivation, and make the land levelled. Then stagnate the water within the plot and spread leaves of neem and erukku (Ergot) and allow them to soak in the land for 5 days. Then trample on the decayed leaves, making the plot of one acre miry. Then with a spacing of ¾ feet, plant single paddy sapling in the plot in a row, as a ‘single straw planting’.
The saplings can be dipped in Panchakavya mix before planting them. Irrigate the land continuously, drying and wetting the land alternately. On day of 15 after planting, pass on 200 litres of Amudhakaraisal along with the irrigation water. On day of 25 and day 40 after planting, weed out the plot. On day 30, add 300 ml of Panchakavya in 10 litres of water, and spray the mix on the crops. If the crops are found to be wilting, it is enough to supply Amudhakkaraisal and Panchakavya. Herbal insect repellent can be used if insects are found on the crops. The paddy sheaths will emerge and mature after 130 days, ready for harvest.
(This article written in Tamil by Durai Nagarajan G Sadasivam for Pasumai Vikatan magazine dt 10/9/18 has been reproduced in English by V Amalan Stanley)