FARMER’S NOTEBOOK Science

Diversified farming ensures sustainable income

The farm of a young farmer, Mr. Joji P. Daniel, in Chittarickal village, West Eleri panchayat in Kasaragod district of Kerala is like a school for enthusiastic young farmers and agricultural students since they get exposed to a range of intense and diversified farming activities.

His family owns about 9.5 acres and in four acres coconut trees (250 trees), 150 coconut seedlings, 150 nutmeg grafts, 200 banana plants and 400 tuber crops like elephant foot yam, colocasia and tapioca are grown.

Regular income

In another two acres about 800 arecanut trees are grown with cocoa and pepper as intercrops. About 450 rubber trees are planted in another three acres which ensures a regular income.

In the remaining 50 cents of land he cultivates different types of vegetables such as bitter gourd, cabbage, cauliflower, vegetable cowpea, tomato, chilli, amaranthus and little gourd.

Besides being used for household consumption, the vegetables are sold on alternate days for about four months in a year.

The farmer regularly attends farmers’ meetings at the Central Plantation and Crops Research Institute (CPCRI) Kasaragod to get acquainted with latest technologies for sustainable farming.

He promptly follows good agricultural practices like crop rotation, incorporation of leguminous plants for improving soil fertility, organic recycling of farm waste, mulching etc. In the coconut based integrated farming system, he maintains two cows and one heifer, poultry birds and also freshwater fishes like Tilapia and Carp varieties.

Fodder grass variety, Co-3 is cultivated in the interspaces of coconut gardens to reduce the cost of animal feed. Around 15 stingless bee colonies established in the farm ensures enhanced pollination of crops and nutritional security.

Common practice

“The highlight of his farm is that adequate soil and water conservation measures are adopted throughout the farm with around 300 rain pits and inward sloping terraces. Coconut husk burial is a common practice adopted in trenches made between rows of coconut palms for moisture retention,” says Dr. George V.Thomas, Director of the Institute.

Due to proper adoption of soil and water conservation measures, the coconut yield has increased from around 90 nuts to 130 nuts per tree in a year. He has constructed three farm ponds of 15 lakh litre storage capacity and a roof top water harvesting structure of 10, 000 litre capacity.

During peak summer there is no shortage of water in his farm whereas the neighbouring areas are hit by drought as prolonged dry spells are generally experienced in the district.

Waste recycled

In his farm all crop residues are recycled to highly valued vermicompost. A biogas plant is also set up for fuel and slurry for manure purpose.

“His technique of grafting nutmeg plants after attaining sufficient growth was found to be highly successful. Generally more than 50 per cent of plants raised from nutmeg seeds are male plants.

“Grafting was done on such plants, which proved to be fast growing and started yielding from 2-3 years after planting. In fifth year of planting the average production is 200-300 fruits per plant with an average yield of 2 kg mace per plant,” explains Dr.T.S. Manoj Kumar Programme Coordinator.

The farmer is not only known for his passion, devotion and dedication towards farming but also for his innovative ideas for getting maximum returns of more than 10 lakh annually from his farm.

During heavy rainfall, bud rot disease is a major problem in coconut palms in the district. During 2008-2009, disease spread was very severe.

Mr. Joji, on behalf of a coconut cluster club formed by his group took necessary action for timely intervention in about 30 hectares guided by CPCRI specialists.

Several awards

He is the recipient of several awards like Karshaka Sree, block level best coconut farmer award, best coconut farmer award by CPCRI and Regional agricultural research station, Pilicode and is also the first recipient of the Karshaka Mithra award announced by the Government of Kerala in 2014.

“It is time for the farming community to move towards safe farming by way of maximum utilization of organic inputs and minimal or zero usage of chemical inputs. But it is the responsibility of the authorities to ensure proper branding and fair price for such safe products,” he says.

For further details please contact Mr. Joji P.Daniel, Pullancheri House, Paramba Post, Parappa (Via), Kattamkavala, Kasaragod Mobile:09447880525 and Dr.T.S. Manoj Kumar Programme Coordinator, Chowki, Kudlu Post Office, Kasaragod, Kerala 671 124 email: cpcrikvk1@yahoo.com, Mob:09400334940 Phone:04994 232993.

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Printable version | Aug 6, 2020 7:32:31 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/diversified-farming-ensures-sustainable-income/article6830915.ece

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