Single crop cultivation is always prone to risk of loss. Multi-crop including cattle and poultry rearing will benefit the farmer more in terms of physical engagement and monetary earnings in the farm. This is what exactly was opined by experienced farmers like the stalwart, Nammazhwar. Manivannan belongs to Chadhuperipalayam near Arani in Thiruvannamalai district and he is one typical farmer engaged in multi-cropping and cattle rearing in an integrated manner.
Manivannan grows sweet lime, lime, mango, jasmine, mullai, thornless bamboo, teak etc. along with cattle and poultry.
The personal life history of Manivannan is that he studied up to 10th standard and went to Bangalore to work in a shop where he learnt electrical job. After three years, he returned to his village and continued the electrical job together with agriculture in about 4 acres along with his father. After marriage, he got 2 acres of land out of family settlement where he started growing groundnut and black gram out of interest.
Nearly two decades ago, he visited Parvatha hill near Polur where he happened to see red rose cultivation that had attracted him very much. Immediately, he bought rose seedlings from Odukathur near Velore district and planted them in 40 cernts. He was able to get Rs.500/- from them daily(23 years ago); however, as his brother planted banana in his land, it caused water shortage in the common well and hence Manivannan had to give up rose cudltivation.
Money from Mullai:-
He gathered that mullai plant would withstand drought and hence he started mullai cultivation with 300 plants in 33 cents. While the management was by his family members only, he was able to earn around Rs.50,000/- to Rs.60,000/- per month. Subsequently, he bought two acres of land and also gave education and marriage to his children from the earnings.
Jasmine as inter-crop:-
In the next phase, Manivannan planted banganapalli and alphonsa mango varieties in 1 ½ acre. Out of that 30 trees did not grow while 70 have grown to be big trees. Due to labour shortage, he stopped mullai cultivation, thus leaving only the stems to remain. In 40 cents portion he planted sweet lime stems in between of which he had planted jasmine as inter-crop plant. In 2 ½ years sweet lime has become ripe enough to give fruits and jasmine also started giving him good returns. About 10 sweet lime trees had become useless and he had replaced them with lime plants which are now 5 years old and they now stand as tall trees.
They had put up an 8-feet tall fence round the land and adjacent to the fence, they planted 1000 teak stems. They are of 4 years, 3 years and 2 years of age respectively. Manivannan’s wife continued about cattle rearing.
Cattle and poultry rearing:-
Manivannan had bought 19 thalacheri female goats and 1 boyar kida and put them in a newly-erected shed. In about 40 months, it had grown to be 48 goats. However, for want of mineral salts, 24 of them had died.
As regards goats, Manivannan & his wife grow and rear Kho-4 and velimasal for their fodder. Each goat is fed with 3 kg. green fodder and 60 gms. hydroponic fodder on a daily basis. Additionally, 5 gms. mineral salt and 10 gms. cooking salt are also given duly mixed with water.
After shifting their residence to the farm itself, they bought 2 chickens and reared. They started hatching the eggs and after personal consumption there are now 75 chickens and 10 cocks. Similarly, they had bought one incubator to hatch 200 eggs out of which only half of them hatched successfully. While they are now two months old, 100 more eggs are still kept in incubator.
Sheep manure – the only manure:-
Manivannan says that he uses sheep manure only for sweet lime and other flower plants twice a year. Quantity-wise, sweet lime tree will get 10 kg. and flower plants will get 1 kg. each respectively. When the chickens move around, the manure will get spread throughout. Manivannan sprays chemical insecticide for the flower plants only. For the sweet lime, he does not use any insecticide at all. Though he has the knowledge of organic method of killing the insects, he has not implemented the same so far.
Manivannan has methodically been doing the rearing part of it. He has allotted his 4 acres of land as under:-
1 ½ acre for : mango
40 cents : sweet lime, lime and jasmine
34 cents : mullai flower
65 cents : green fodder
25 cents : thornless bamboo
16 cents : house, sheds for sheep and poultry
30 cents : sweet lime and jasmine as inter-crops
40 cents : allotted for groundnut
He has given all the 70 mango trees on lease for three years @ Rs.15,000/- per year for a total sum of Rs.45,000/-. He has 40 sweet lime trees in 40 cents. On an average, he will get 4,800 kg. Sweet lime @ 120 kg. from 40 trees. He sells them @ Rs.30/- per kg. thus getting a total sum of Rs.1,44,000/- . Likewise, he gets 10,000 limes @ 1,000 lime from 10 trees and he gets an average income of Rs.20,000/- @ Rs.2/- per lime. From sweet lime and lime alone, he gets around Rs.1,20,000/- after meeting all necessary expenses.
Income from flower plants:-
Per day he gets 3kg.to 12 kg. from the inter-crop plant of 500 jasmine plants. On an average, if we fix 5 kg.output daily, he will get 150 kg. in a month. Assuming that it fetches Rs.100/- per kg. he will get Rs.15,000/- per month. Expenses like labour and insecticides will involve Rs.6,000/- and his net profit will be Rs.9,000/-.and Rs.72,000/- per year. Normally, for 4 months, there will be no jasmine growth in a year. Apart from this, Manivannan sells the mullai stems from out of his 34 cents and gets a total income of Rs.60,000 and after expenses, the net income will be Rs.50,000/- per year.
Possible revenue from sheep population:-
Till now Manivannan has not started selling of sheep for money. But he plans to do so from next year. As of now, he has 26 female sheep. One sheep will beget 3 times in two years. Each time it will be 2 sheep thus making 6 sheep in 2 years. From the total population 26 sheep he will be able to get 78 offsprings per year. He says if he rears them for about 6 months, he will be able to sell each sheep @ Rs.4,500/-
Possible revenue from poultry:-
He plans to rear 1,500 country poultry for 4 months and then sell. It will normally weigh ¾kg. to 1 ¼ kg. and will get Rs.200/- per kg.
Manivannan declares that he gets around Rs.3,00,000/- from plants and including the possible revenue from sheet and poultry, he will certainly be able to receive a total sum of Rs.7,00,000/- per year.
Revenue in pipeline:-
Manivannan’s wife further adds that they have one more variety of chicken called ‘Vasthu’ chicken which will be whitish in colour and appear beautiful. They are preferred by some for keeping them in their houses for auspiciousness. There is yet another variety called ‘peacock-neck’ chicken. It is worth Rs.1,000/- per pair.
Planting during monsoon:-
Both sweet lime and jasmine are required to be planted in the Tamil months of Purattasi to Karthigai.(Oct-Dec) Proper ploughing is to be ensured. With 20 ft.gap in between rows and space of 18 ft. Between plants must be left for sweet lime. Between two sweet lime plants there must be 4 ft. space for jasmine flower plant.
2 ft.l x b x h pit is a prerequisite for sweet lime while 1 ft.l x b x h pit is enough for jasmine flower plant. The pits should be allowed to dry for one week after which 1 kg. sheep residue should be poured and spread and heaped with the upper sand. The monsoon rain will make them flourish.
Expected revenue from teakwood and bamboos:-
In about 15 to 20 years he expects to harvest 1,000 teakwood trees that he has planted. If he is able to sell @ Rs.5,000/- per tree, he will get around Rs.50 Lakhs. Similarly, he has thornless bamboo plants in 25 cents. It will fetch him 100 tonnes after 10 years and if he sells them @ Rs.4,000/- per tonne he will get a total income of Rs.4 Lakhs from that.
It is not an exaggeration to conclude that Manivannan has proved beyond doubt that integrated farming practice is and will be a bonanza both in the present and in the future.
(This article written In Tamil by Kasi Vembaiyan for Pasumai Vikatan has been reproduced in English by P S Ramamurthy)