“Guaranteed good income, more than subsidies and schemes, alone sustains the interest of a farmer in continuing to farm and also generate interest among youth to enter agriculture,” says Mr. P. David Raja Beula, Assistant Director of Horticulture, Thiruvennainallur, Villupuram, Tamil Nadu
“A farmer's interest lies in the income he gets from the crops, and he usually does not bother about government schemes. If a scientist or technology can help him generate a good income, not one, but hundreds of farmers will readily adopt the same technique,” he adds.
Mrs. Gokila Kumar, a turmeric farmer from Ogaiyur village in Villipuram district, Tamil Nadu, harvested about 26,000 kg of turmeric (local variety) and earned more than Rs. 11 lakh from her 2 acres in nine months time. After seeing this, several farmers in the area are taking to turmeric cultivation.
The horticulture officials advised the farmer to start growing turmeric under the fertigation system (where both the fertilizers and water are mixed and irrigated through drip irrigation).
The cost of erecting the fertigation system works out to nearly Rs. 1 lakh and a subsidy of Rs. 50,000 is given by the government to the farmer.
Says Mrs. Gokila: “When the staff told me that fertigation technique improves the yield and reduces weed growth I did not believe it initially. But now I see its benefits. In fact, after hearing about my bumper harvest and income, several farmers from adjoining villages are visiting my field.”
According to Mr. Buela, farmers in the region are usually advised to invest their own money instead of applying for bank loans for erecting the fertigation system.
The reason being, the loan amount takes nearly a year to get processed and reach the farmer. “By that time the farmers interest also wanes,” adds Mr David.
But is not Rs. 40,000 quite a big sum for a small farmer?
“True, but in Ogaiyur, several farmers cultivate yam, tapioca and turmeric and earn quite well. In fact, it is difficult to see a farmer in debt in this place. But those in adjoining places (upto 3km away) are bankrupt and steeped in debts,” he explains.
The horticulture department in the area is trying to promote this concept of fertigation for crops among the neighbouring villages.
“A farmer needs to personally see, experience, think, discuss, and take time before he decides to take up a new crop or new technology. No amount of cajoling or coaxing can work with a farmer to try something new if he does not get personally convinced,” says Mr. David.
“Though we are doing farming for generations this is the first time we earned such a good amount from a small acreage. It only proves that farming, if done properly, can yield handsome returns.
“True, today agriculture is undergoing a very bad phase due to several reasons. But one must also remember that India's agriculture arena is a potential goldmine that our policy makers failed to tap properly, paving the way for entry of several MNCs who claim to be interested in our farmers and started lobbying for a market here,” says Mrs Gokila.
Need for replication
“If the Ogaiyur example can be replicated for other crops in the country then farmers need no longer suffer in silence,” she adds.
For more details and personal visit readers can contact Mrs Gokila, Ogaiyur village, Villipuram district, Tamil Nadu, mobile: 9047618171 and Mr. P.David Raja Beula, Assistant Director of Horticulture, Thiruvennainallur, Villupuram District, Tamil Nadu, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, mobile: 9486285704.