Mangalanandan, a farmer in Idukki, met with failures in the initial years of his career. He failed as a plantain farmer. Luck eluded him when he took up goat rearing. But third time, he tested an innovative idea and it is now reaping good results. He reared rabbits and produced biogas from the farm using only their excreta. He uses the biogas for cooking. He also supplies it to two of his neighbours free of cost for their cooking needs. “If you have 20 rabbits, you can make a biogas plant that is enough to meet the requirement of a family,” he says.
There are three biogas plants at his farm. The excreta from the farm is treated at two plants in the first stage. The third plant is exclusively for producing gas from the already used slurry in the two plants. “The slurry from the plant can be used again to make biogas as it was found that it contained biofuel. So another plant was set up,” he says. He adds that excreta contains high level of effluent for producing biogas than cow dung or waste from pig farms. His farm is a major attraction for visitors now. His brother Madanakumar and nephew Santhoshkumar help him at the farm.
There are 300 parent rabbits and over 1,000 rabbits of various ages in his farm now. “It all started with 20 parent rabbits I got from the Southern Regional Research Centre at Mannavanur under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research,” he recalls. He still gets assistance from the experts there.
The main rabbits grown in his farm are Grey Giant, Black Ten and White Giant. “The focus is on rearing the pure breed,” he says.