“Our farmers are not happy. Economically they are suffering. Their children don't want to continue in agriculture, as it is not remunerative.
In certain parts of western Tamil Nadu, such as Erode you don't even get married if you say you are a farmer. And our policy makers still keep speaking on increasing production and food security without realising the problems at the grassroots,” says Mr. R. Kulandaisamy an engineer-turned-farmer.
Mr. Kulandaisamy maintains a nursery called Tari Bio-Tech, on the Orathanad bye-pass road in Thanjavur.
Recalling his foray into agri-related ventures “as an accident,” the farmer says he started his career by doing sub-contracting jobs and when the unit failed, he decided to diversify into nursery business.
“And I have not looked back since then,” he says.
Mr. Kulandaisamy initially acquired about 25 acres of land for establishing the nursery and later expanded it to 90 acres.
“It is a Government approved 100 per cent organic nursery for cashew. But we also supply vanilla, citrus, guava, sapota, amla (gooseberry), banana, and mango saplings, apart from medicinal and ornamental plants.”
The nursery supplies close to 12 lakh plantings annually and home to nearly 50 mango varieties.
The interesting feature about the farmer is that he developed a new technique for growing grafted mango seedlings.
Usually the grafted seedlings are planted in the field and grown, but the farmer says, “through this new technique (polybag growing), mango seedlings come to commercial bearing in 2- 3 years.”
Giving details about how he does the grafting the farmer says:
“Good, bearing mother plants are selected and the desired variety is grafted together and grown for 45 days in plastic bags in a controlled environment. After the first flush of leaves emerge, the seedlings are moved to open conditions and kept under shade and watered.”
“Grafting ensures purity in variety, till date many growers simply plant the grafted seedlings they buy straight into the open field. The investment, maintenance and labour for growing the plants is quite high.
Whereas, in the poly bag method, the plants are grown for 1 to 2 years and then planted in the main field.
“The cost of cultivation drastically comes down. Farmers need to take care of the tree only for 2 to 3 years, after which it comes to bearing and can be harvested,” explains Mr. Kulandaisamy.
But what about the regular infestations which affect mango trees?
“I use my own bio plant growth promoters while I plant my grafted seedlings in the poly bags. The plants are regularly sprayed with our own bio growth promoters and grow quite well. So far we have been sending our seedlings to several parts of the country and are receiving encouraging feedbacks,” he replies.
More than half a dozen mango varieties are being grafted in his farm and grown to be sold.
Even a single tree, if grown by this method and taken care of properly, can yield more than 150 fruits. For an acre about 80 seedlings are required and in a year a farmer can get an income of at least Rs. 1,50,000 (minimum), assures Mr. Kulandaisamy.
“Forget the international market, concentrate on your local market first. When farmers already face problems in marketing and the Government agriculture machinery remains insensitive to their demands and problems, what is the use of asking them to think of exporting to international markets?” he asks.
For more details Mr. R. Kulandaisamy can be reached at email:firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.tarigroup.com, mobile: 98430-59117 and 98434-39909.