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FARMER'S NOTEBOOK

Mixed farming: success in more ways than one

M.J. PRABU

His annual net income from his farm is about seven lakhs

— Photo: IISR

GOOD EXAMPLE: Mr. Jojo Jacob, coconut farmer in his poultry farm at Kozhikode in Kerala.

COCONUT IS predominantly cultivated in small and marginal areas. Mixed or integrated farming in coconut gardens has proved to be beneficial because, even if the trees fail to give good yield due to several reasons the loss can be supplemented by selling the produce of other intercrops or animal products.

Crop integration

It is always advisable for coconut farmers to integrate a number of other crops along with rearing of animals and birds to maximise farm efficiency, according to Dr. V.A. Parthasarathy, Director, Indian Institute of Spices Research (IISR), Kozhikode, Kerala.

These farmers must try to produce food, fodder, fuel (biogas), milk and meat in a small area.

Under such conditions, one alternative is to integrate more than one enterprise on the same piece of land, according to him.

Effective recycling

The animal wastes can be effectively recycled as fertilizer for their crops thereby reducing huge expenses for purchase of chemical fertilizers and the harvested produce from the fields can be used as feed for the animals.

Mr. Jojo Jacob is one such coconut farmer in Kozhikode district of Kerala who has diversified his farming activities into several areas.

He has established a plant nursery, piggery, vermiculture, apiary (honey bees), poultry, pisciculture (fish rearing), sericulture (silkworm rearing), dairy and ornamental birds in his nine-acre coconut farm.

For additional income, crops such as vanilla, nutmeg, vegetables, arecanut, banana, and fodder grass were also grown in his garden.

At present his annual net income from his farm is about Rs.7 lakh.

According to Dr. T.K. Jacob, Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) in charge, the success of the farmer is due to the diversification of farm activities, which was done scientifically.

His farm is an excellent example of integrated farming system in which each component supports the other systems.

The farm is fully organic, where all the farm waste is converted into organic manure through vermiculture.

"With an initial investment of Rs. 30,000, I was able to earn a gross income of Rs.70, 000 during 1999.

"In 2001-2002, with an investment of Rs.50,000 I was able to realise a gross income of Rs.1.60 lakh," he explained.

Main income

Realising that his main source of income is through coconut trees, scientists advised him to diversify his cropping pattern by including new crop varieties.

Accordingly he procured planting materials of improved crop varieties such as arecanut, coconut, pepper, nutmeg and garcinia to plant in his farm.

Annual income

The new cropping system provides him an annual net income of about Rs.1.25 lakh. Since his family is also supporting him in his farming activities, he was advised to undertake alternative activities such as pig rearing, poultry and apiculture.

Over a period of two years, he promptly adopted these activities and has been successful. Mr. Jacob has won the young farmer award instituted by the Government of Kerala.

Readers can contact Dr. T.K. Jacob, Senior Scientist and Training Organiser at the Indian Institute of Spices Research (IISR), Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), Peruvunnamuzhi, Kozhikode: 673 012, Kerala: email: jacobtk@spices.res.in, phone: 0496-2662372 and Mr. Jojo Jacob, Chavarammuzhi, Chakkittapara panchayat, Kozhikode:673 012, Kerala: phone: 0496-2662024.

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