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Systematic investment plan in farming yields fruits

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Sprinkler irrigated arecanut plantation of Mr Prabhakara Mayya at Nada village in Dakshina Kannada district. --
Sprinkler irrigated arecanut plantation of Mr Prabhakara Mayya at Nada village in Dakshina Kannada district. --

A.J. Vinayak

Mangalore, Jan. 30

Does any farmer think about earning daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, half-yearly, and yearly income from his field? A few may think so, if they have large chunk of land and enough manpower to do this.

Achieving this would have been ruled out if it was only six acres of dry land with minimum manpower. But not for Mr Prabhakara Mayya, a teacher-turned-farmer from Nada village in Belthangady taluk of Dakshina Kannada district.

The 40-year-old Mayya took farming on a dry land with minimum investment of 5 kg each of ginger and elephant yam 10 years ago. Now he grows paddy, vegetables, arecanut, coconut and cocoa; rears seven cows; collects honey from bee hives; gets manure from vermiculture in the backyard; and supplies fishes from the natural pond, earning a decent income on a periodic basis.

The planning, determination, and market intelligence of this farmer was visible when this reporter met him at his house at Nada recently.

NEAR ZERO INVESTMENT

As usual, the first question for him was about the investment in developing the land. Near zero, comes the reply from Mr Mayya, adding that 5 kg each of ginger and elephant were the initial investments in this land. In four years, he harvested around 50 quintals of them.

“I invested the money earned in ginger cultivation for digging borewell,” he says, pointing at the green stretch of various crops in his farms.

In the subsequent years, he planted arecanut, coconut, cocoa, teakwood and mahogany saplings in the field. Now his field consists of 1.5 acres of paddy, half acre of coconut, 2.5 acres of arecanut, and an acre of forest wood such as teakwood, mahogany, and cinnamon, among others. Half acre of land is exclusively earmarked for growing green fodder.

PERIODIC EARNING PLAN

The main focus for him while venturing into agriculture was to put in place a periodic earning plan. Seven cows at home help his undivided family of nine people to earn daily income.

More than 100 vines of betel leaf help him earn the weekly income.

He is dependent on banana plants, organically grown vegetables and 70-odd coconut trees for monthly to quarterly income.

SRI method

Mr Mayya harvests nearly 20-22 quintals of paddy by implementing SRI (system of rice intensification) method for earning half-yearly income.

Crops such as arecanut, cocoa and pepper bring him the annual income from his field.

Keeping the long-term yield in mind, he has planted 150 teakwood and 250 mahogany plants.

The entire family involves itself in carrying out farming activities, he says with pride.

MANURE

Showing different species of earthworms in the vermicompost tank, he says that this has helped him cultivate vegetables organically.

The gobar gas plant helps meet the entire fuel requirement of the family.

The compost prepared from the slurry and other bio-degradables has helped him save manure worth around Rs 60,000, he says.

MARKET INELLIGENCE

Mr Mayya highlights the need for market intelligence to sell the commodity in the local market.

“I take vegetables to the local market on a periodic basis without any interruption. This ensures a ready base of customers for us. For arecanut, I sold in December at Rs 110 a kg when the arrivals were thin,” he adds.

Though being vegetarian, he uses the natural pond in his field for rearing fishes.

“I don't have to market this, as people come here to collect fishes from the pond,” he says indicating at the pond situated in the middle of the arecanut plantation.

RISK FACTOR

Like a true entrepreneur, Mr Mayya has taken risk factors such as natural calamities and plant diseases into consideration while venturing into farming.

“By the grace of god, I did not face much problem in these areas. Any how, I have opted for crop insurance scheme of the Government to tide over any unforeseen problems,” he says with a smile.

Returns on investment

When wanted to know returns from near-zero investment, he said: “In the last two years, I earned an income of around Rs 1.5-2 lakh a year. I was able to save some amount out of this.”

Now if you think that SIP (systematic investment plan) works only in mutual funds, then you are wrong. The integrated farming method adopted by farmer like Mr Mayya could also help you reap good returns.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 31, 2011)
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