Organic farmers are convinced that “Intercropping is possible in between coconut trees. If one has a proper plan and executes it with clarity, intercropping can be an everlasting venture. It can fetch a good income”. This has already been achieved in many places by the farmers. There is a grove, owned by Seenivasan, from Soorakkuppam village, next to Mathuranthagam, Kancheepuram district. The method of intercropping in the coconut grove was found to be unique, therefore, we met with Ekambaram, a consultant for the grove and conversed with him.
“It’s totally, 20 acres of land. It is fully an organic farm. There are mango and coconut trees in ten acres. When we bought this piece of land, there were thickets of bushes. We cleared the ground of all those bushes and decided to go for an integrated farm. We dug four farm ponds. We grow shrimps in one of the ponds. Besides, we grow hens, ducks, goats and cows in separate sheds.
Separate tanks are built to prepare organic fertilizers. There are three wells on the farm. We use only two of the wells for irrigation. That is more than adequate for us as we follow drip irrigation systems. We are toiling towards making this as an integrated farm”. He continued.
“As intercrops of coconut trees, mango, jack, guava, pomegranate, lemon, rose apple, custard apple, citron, lemon and pomelo have been planted. These trees are planted after the land is divided into 50 cents. Besides, 12 fruit trees, raised bunds were raised to plant banana, papaya, tomato, beans, flat beans, radish, beetroot, cauliflower, carrot, sesbania, tur dhal, brinjal have also been planted. The total land of 20 acres is made with raised and circular bunds to plant the crops. Every 50 cents of land is made as a model farm. Other than these crops, paddy varieties such as Manipur and Aththur Kichali samba have also been planted and irrigated through a drip system.
There are also rainwater harvesting structures all along with the farm. We are growing two varieties of teak, silver oak, sandal and rosewood trees. Along the bunds, thornless bamboos and about 1200 palm seeds have been planted. The model farms that we have established in our farm is designed in such a way to fetch us Rs 3000-5000 income per month. The crops planted in the farm are capable of providing short and long term benefits to us.
There are about 15 crop varieties available in the 50 cents as intercrops. Vegetables such as brinjal, tomato, carrot and beetroot will provide short term benefits. We have also planted green varieties on the raised bunds. We have made it possible to get daily income from the farm as well as 3 to 4-time harvests in a year from the coconut trees.
We are completely into organic farming. Natural fertilizers like Jeevamirtham, Panchakavya and cow urine, turmeric, ginger, garlic, jaggery, and cow manure are provided to the plants through a drip irrigation system. Organic fertilizers are provided to the crops in order to protect them from pests and diseases and also nurture them with adequate nutrients, simultaneously. We have taken the separate piece of land, spread over ten acres, on lease and continue our farming activities. We grow 13 kinds of traditional paddy varieties, chillies, brinjal in that land. It necessitated more expenditure, to begin with. But once it is established we are sure to get returns from the land. Today, it is possible to grow more varieties of crops in 50 cents to gain Rs 3000 to 5000 per day, rather than focussing on only one plant and incur a loss.
Let us avoid incurring a loss with one crop and gain benefits from multiple intercrops.
(This article written by Durai Nagarajan in Tamil has been transcreated in English by V Amalan Stanley)