First thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Madurai is its fragrant variety of jasmine. That is the extent of its widespread cultivation, and its strong fragrance that perfumes the surroundings of Madurai. Among different varieties, the round one called, gundu malli, grown in the neighborhood of Kodai Road has its own everlasting market demand.
Being the Queen of flowers, Jasmine has been grown approximately in 7000 acres of land spread over about fifty villages in the neighborhood of Madurai. Those who have planted round variety of jasmine say with gratitude that the flower that provides fragrance to others fetches adequate money for them too.
In this area, Innocent Paul (Mobile: 99525-97397) has been cultivating jasmine crops following organic farming technologies. When he was approached, he briefed about it. “I have been continuing jasmine cultivation for the past ten years. I used chemicals at the beginning. Recently Gandhigram University provided us training on organic farming. Ever since, it has been only natural farming in my 20 cents of land cultivating jasmine. At first, I provided Amirthakaraisal to the crops. After reading about ‘zero budget’ farming by Palekar through ‘Pasumai Vikatan’, I have started preparing ‘Jeevamirtham’ on my own. After providing Jeevamirtham the plants remain more fertile. The leaves grow luxuriant and flowers are large. Pest and disease attack remains to the minimum,” said gladly, Innocent Paul, and gave a lecture on the methods of organic farming of jasmine crops.
After summer, jasmine can be planted from Aavani (Aug-Sep) till Karthigai (Nov-Dec). Before ploughing disperse 500 kg of vermicompost per acre. After thorough ploughing dig 1000 pits of one foot deep with 6’x6’ gap in between. In each pit plant two jasmine stems. They are sold in Ramanathapuram areas and sometimes at local flower market as well. Though both the stems will come alive it is better to have two as a precautionary measure where one will survive even if the other dies off. Sometimes they are planted with 3’x3’ gap in between, which would affect the production due to suffocation for space.
Hot sale of jasmine
While planting the saplings spread the roots widely in all sides and cover the pit with soil. Irrigate it immediately so that roots have a strong hold with the soil. Supply water once in four days and by 30th day the plant will flourish well. At that time, keep 50 g of groundnut cake at the base of each plant. Monthly once ground cake with ¼ kg vermicompost can be given to each plant. At the time of flowering spray a mixture of 200 liters of Jeevamirtham, Panchakaavya and EM per acre so that pests and diseases can be averted, especially red lice affliction and eventual dropping of early flowers, resembling like tamarind flowers due to discoloration, can be minimized.
Income and expenditure for cultivating jasmine organically in one acre
Other than October, November and December harvest can be obtained for nine months. At the beginning 100 g of flowers per plant can be obtained and gradually it will increase up to 250 g per plant. The flowers will not wither fast as they are organically grown and hence remain fresh for a longer period with prolonged fragrance. Therefore its price also goes up, where it could be sold five rupees more per kg than chemically grown flowers. In thousand plants per acre, if you calculate 100 g of flowers daily from single plant you will get 100 kg of flowers daily. On an average it will not be less than 50 kg per acre. In a single plant flowers can be collected for 25 days and then there will be no harvest for next 20 days. On an average, flowers can be harvested for 150 days in a year. If the flowers are harvested on rotation you can collect flowers continuously for nine months.
There will not be hassle in selling the harvested flowers. There are three markets vis-à-vis Kodai road, Dindigul and Nilakkottai. There will be higher price in Dindigul market and sometimes it will be sold to perfumeries. Per kg of flower can be sold at a minimum of INR 30 and maximum for INR 500. If the farm is maintained well, not less than a lakh can be earned in an acre.
After completing his elaboration on cultivation practices and market opportunities for jasmine, he continued with complete gratification, “From a well maintained farm at least INR 1000 can be earned every day in an acre of land. Therefore once jasmine is planted no one will ever turn to any other crop”.
Except a few aspects, the cultivation practices of using chemical fertilizers and pesticides are almost similar. Alphonsa Mary who has been residing in the same area and cultivating jasmine for the past fifteen years from Kamalapuram describes about it.
Flowers cannot be collected during November and December and the plants can be pruned during that season. We keep a temporary goat shed on the field so that plants are naturally pruned while goats nibble the leaves of the plants. At the same time, their biological wastes naturally fertilize the soil. Once the shed is removed the land should be weeded out and the plants should be strengthened with mud banking. Two bags of micronutrients as ATP can be supplied per acre. It is helpful to allow plants to dry up a little before supplying water. The plants will start yielding flowers within a month.
Pest infestation can be managed by appropriate measures. In order to hasten whiteness of the flowers, potash can be sprayed at the time of flowering” concluded Alphonsa Mary sharing key tips with us.
What type of soil?
With regard to jasmine, mostly local varieties are being cultivated. In Tamilnadu only two varieties are cultivated, round jasmine and Iruvaatchi from Ramanathapuram. Red and coarse soils are suitable for jasmine cultivation. The pH should be between 6 and 8. Basic or acidic soils are not suitable. Soil with good draining is conducive for cultivation. It’s a tropical plant and could stand excess rain too. But if water is retained in the soil yield will be low. Right time for cultivation of round jasmine is August-December. Till it is rooted firmly it should be irrigated twice a week and then weekly once is adequate.
Red lice will settle at the bottom while buds are emerging out. They extract out the chlorophyll from the buds rendering it a brown tinge, resembling tamarind flowers. Hence they are referred as tamarind flowers. Spraying a mixture of Jeevamirtham, Panchakaavya and EM could control the infestation, says Innocent Paul.
(This Article written in Tamil by Kumaresan for Pasumai Vikatan has been reproduced in English by Amalan Stanley)