M. J. PRABU
Model farmer coaxes more crops from less land
— PHOTO: IISR
In the last five years he has sold earthworms worth about rupees one lakh
Role model: Mr. Sebastian (sitting) of Kozhikode explaining to visitors about his rain water harvesting tank.
Big farmers have more land, finance and manpower at their disposal when compared to small and marginal farmers who grow their crops in 3-4 acres and still succeed in getting a good yield.
One such small farmer is Mr. K.O. Sebastian, in Kozhikode district of Kerala who has rubber, coconut, areca nut and black pepper in his four-acre land.
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Even though he slogged in his farm to raise crop productivity, absence of proper scientific guidelines proved to be a major obstacle for him as he did not know the ‘nitty gritty’ of successful farming.
He approached the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) of the Indian Institute of Spices Research (IISR), Kozhikode for help.
The KVK research team identified that low productivity due to unscientific crop management practices, lack of crop diversification and enterprises, unavailability of quality planting materials and low price for agricultural commodities were the main problems the farmer was facing.
He was advised to attend a training programme at KVK and the nucleus planting materials of rooted pepper cuttings, bush pepper plants, nutmeg and seed ginger were supplied to him by the institute, according to Dr. T.K. Jacob, scientific officer of KVK.
A project on vermi-composting was also prepared for him and the local panchayat sanctioned a loan of Rs.1 lakh with 25 per cent subsidy. Technical guidance on the manufacture of vermi-tanks and African earthworms for the units was also supplied.
In the last five years Mr. Sebastian has sold earthworms worth about Rs.1 lakh to a number of farmers in Kozhikode, Kannur, Malappuram and Wynad districts. He was advised to convert large quantities of coir pith, into compost which was available locally in his farm.
Training on coir pith composting and ‘pithplus’, an effective fungal culture from Central Coir Research Institute, Alappuzha was given to him for composting.
He converted four tonnes of coir pith into quality compost. In addition he has also started azolla cultivation to meet the fodder requirement of his cattle. At present he is producing 2-3 kg of azolla daily. “Azolla feed has increased milk yield in my cattle. The excess azolla is put into vermi-compost tanks, which is consumed by worms to produce nutrient-rich compost.
I have also tried cooking azolla as food and found it as tasty as any other vegetable preparation,” he said.
Acute water shortage forced him to construct a cost-effective, semi-permanent tank of 60,000-litre capacity with silpaulin sheets in which rain water was preserved and has released a number of fishes into the tank to generate additional income.
Mr. Sebastian has also formed a club under NABARD, sponsored by a local co-operative bank. Named Vikas Volunteer Vahini (VVV), “the club is useful to interact with other like minded farmers in my area and to guide them,” he said.
The main aim of the club is to strengthen farmer-to-farmer linkage and share the experiences of progressive farming practices among themselves, he explained.
Mr. Sebastian was conferred the Model Farmer award by the Department of Agriculture, Government of Kerala.
Readers can contact Mr. K.O. Sebastian, Vadakkekallunkal, Muthukadu (Post), Peruvannamuzhi, Kozhikode 673 528, Kerala, and Dr. T.K. Jacob can be reached at Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Peruvannamuzhi Post,Kozhikode, Kerala - 673528, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, mobile:94475-39967, phone: 0496-2662372.
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