Change in technology, process, practice and what not, is but inevitable. It applies to agriculture as well. Hardly a tree can make a forest! Hence single crop cultivation throughout the year has become obsolete in modern times. Joint crop cultivation has rather almost come to stay.
Ramasamy who hails from Viralipatti village near Batlagundu , Dindigul is the hero in this episode. Having retired from the office of horticultural Department, Ramasamy has become a full-fledged farmer in his locality and along with the main crops of banana plantains, he has introduced Malai vembu (Melia Dubia) cultivation also in his land. His portion of land extends a warm welcome to us with the natural scenery and greenery, coupled with teak and bubble trees on both sides. He lives with his wife and breathes agriculture day in and day out. Out of 8 acres of land, he has earmarked 2 acres for paddy and the balance 6 acres for G9 banana plantain trees. In this 6 acres, he has planted malai vembu trees in about 4 acres by means of penetration process. Ramasamy enjoys his village life to the hilt. He shares his experience as below:-
“My friend Mr.Rajasekar is a retired forest officer and he only suggested me to plant malai vembu stems in a penetrating manner in between the main banana plantain trees. He also took me to 3 or 4 farms where similar practices had been followed. I simply followed what he said and the malai vembu trees, absorbing the inputs of banana plantains, grew up to become tall, hale and healthy within 18 months. Once I cut the banana I was able to get back what I had invested from vazhai itself and hence whatever I am going to reap from Malai vembu would mean total profit in the end”.
900 Banana Plantains! 300 Malai vembu Trees!! Ramasamy explains as under:-
- The land should be well ploughed at the rate of 10 tonnes Thozhu manure per acre for about 6 ft.
- With reasonable depth the ground should be dug with a distance of 6 ft. in between
- Pour 250 gm vermi compost manure in each pit and plant thisu banana seeds
- Drip irrigation is adequate
- On an average, 1,200 banana plantains can be cultivated per acre
- If you want to introduce joint crop with malai vembu also, only 900 banana plantains can be planted and the balance 300 can be malai vembu stems
- Once in 15 days, 200 litres of Jeevamrutham should be mixed in the drip irrigation pipeline .
- This process should be done continuously for 9 months
- Once in 40 days for each banana plantain you must keep 500 gm vermi compost manure.
- After 6 months, as and when required, you can put liquid organic manure in the ratio of 19:19:19 through drip irrigation process. After 9 months, depending upon the growth stage, you can resort to harvesting
- Malai vembus can ideally be planted after one month from the time of banana plantain. A gap of 12 ft.may be left in between 2 banana plants for planting the malai vembu. As already mentioned, 300 such malai vembus can be planted in an acre
- For planting the malai vembus the ground must be dug 1.5 ft.from surface and filled with garbage manure and sand along with the plants
- Once they start growing up, the branches must be cut regularly. They will automatically grow.
- Depending on the growth of the tree, harvesting can be done after 7 years
Ramasamy enthusiastically adds further…………..,
“I planted the malai vembus one month after I planted the banana plantains. At that time, obviously, the malai vembus were smaller than the banana plantains. However, within 6 months the malai vembu trees grew up to 15 ft. simply by absorbing the manures that I had put for banana plantains. In fact, my land is full of sukkan sand beneath 3 ft.from surface; yet the malai vembu trees are able to grow . Its growth has been phenomenal with 20 cm circumference within 8 months and 35 ft. height within 1.5 years. Agricultural experts confirm that the malai vembu trees will not grow beyond 35 ft.and they do not require much of protection beyond this and hence I have left it at that”.
Rs.50 L in 7 years:- (Ramasamy on the commercials……………..)
Because of the availability of consistent water and manure, I hope the circumference of the malai vembu trees would become 120 cms in 3 years
Each tree would weigh 1 ton within 7 years. Each ton can be sold for Rs.6,500/-
In 5 years’ time, I will do harvesting of the malai vembu trees
The expenditure for cultivation of both banana and malai vembu was Rs50,000/- per acre and the total amount spent on 4 acres was Rs.2 Lacs.
In the first harvest of banana, I was able to reap 800 thar after wastage
I got Rs.2 L overall at the rate of Rs.250/- per thar
Thus I was able to get my returns equivalent to my investment out of my banana cultivation itself
Since malai vembus used to absorb the manures that I put for banana, I am likely to get less thar during the second harvest. Even if I am able to sell it for Rs.150/- per thar, I will get Rs.1,20,000/-
Even if this Rs.1,20,000/- is required for maintenance of these cultivations, the entire earnings from malai vembu mean net profit for me
The remaining malai vembu trees in my 4 acres of land are 1200 in number. With the likely wastage or damage of 200 trees, I will be able to harvest from 1000 trees.
Even if we fix a minimum rate of Rs.5,000/- per ton, I will receive Rs.50 L and per acre it will be Rs.12,50,000/-.
Never did I know that I would reap such a bumper profit from the cultivation of malai vembu alone. It is incomparable even with my Government job and if I had known this, I would have certainly ventured on this five years earlier itself.
(This article originally written in Tamil by R Kumaresan in Pasumai Vikatan magazine is now reproduced in English by P.S.Ramamurthy. )