“Despite the numerous technologies available now, the main problem in boosting crop production is the absence of proper dissemination of this information to farmers.
“Only accessibility to that information can make it popular. Development and dissemination of technologies are important to achieve food production and security,” says Dr. V.A. Parthasarathy, Director, Indian Institute of Spices Research (IISR), Kozhikode, Kerala.
“Many farmers still practise conventional agriculture and are either not aware or not prepared to make use of technology to increase their productivity,” he adds.
IISR takes special efforts to demonstrate and disseminate the various expertise it develops to farmers in their fields. Such demonstrations motivate the farming community and result in quick adoption of technologies, according to him.
The institute bagged the prestigious Sardar Patel Outstanding Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Institution award for a second time recently.
Mr. N. N. Chandrasekhar, a cardamom planter from Kodagu, is a good example of how well he utilised the experts' advice and harvested a successful yield.
The planter initially inherited 25 acres and adopted coffee-based cropping system with black pepper as intercrop in 16 acres, and a local cardamom variety called Mazarabad in eight acres. The farmer harvested only 1,300 kg of dry cardamom from the entire cardamom plantation - a poor yield.
He later migrated to Kodagu and purchased 35 acres of land and started planting coffee as the main crop, along with black pepper (3,000 vines) and orange (500 plants) as intercrops in 17 acres.
In the remaining 18 acres, the farmer raised cardamom as main crop.
“Initially I harvested 4,000 kg (dry weight) of cardamom and the yield subsequently dropped to 300 kg. I incurred an expense of Rs. 7 lakh for cultivation and got Rs. 10 lakh as income.”
Disheartened and disappointed, the farmer accidentally happened to attend a seminar on cardamom and black pepper cultivation, organized by the Cardamom Research Centre (CRC) at Appangala in Kodagu.
“When the yield of cardamom dropped to low levels, I visited CRC to find out ways to overcome the problem. After a thorough discussion on cardamom cultivation at the centre, I decided to bring one acre of land under cardamom, strictly following their recommendations.”
The farmer cleared the existing Clone 37 variety plants from an acre and planted Kodagu Suvasini, a high yielding variety released by the institute. He planted the crops at 7x 7 feet spacing, accommodating about 1,000 plants in an acre.
A mixture of well- composted coffee husk and cow dung each (2 kg), neem cake (250-500g), and NPK mixture (300gms) was applied per plant, twice a year (pre and post monsoon applications).
Two sprays of Bordeaux mixture (1 per cent) were done to protect the plants from major diseases.
To tackle the insect problem, Phorate or Cypermethrin were sprayed as per the advice of the scientists, and sprinkler irrigation provided to protect the plants from drought.
“It was a turning point in my life,” says the farmer.
“The plants yielded 1,300 kg dry capsule per hectare and were more resistant to pest infestations, major problems among cardamom cultivation.
I spent about Rs. 1 lakh on the crop and earned a net profit of Rs.3 lakh from such a small area.”
For details: Mr. N.N. Chandrasekhar can be reached at Pusphagiri Plantations, Madenad Post& Village, Madikeri Taluq, Kodagu district, Karnataka. Phone: 08272-203120, Mobile: 09449252585.