Agri Business

When a farmer makes better use of market requirements

A.J. Vinayak Mangalore | Updated on June 07, 2012 Published on June 07, 2012

Sugarcane plants at Mr Ramanath Attar's field at Moodshedde village in Mangalore taluk. - Photo: A. J. Vinayak   -  Business Line

Mangalore is not a sugarcane-growing area. However, sensing the potential for this commodity during a particular season, a farmer here has been growing it for nearly two decades.

Mr Ramanath Attar (57), a farmer from Moodshedde village in Mangalore, has been cultivating sugarcane for the past 18 years.

Recalling his entry into farming, Mr Attar told Business Line that he started growing chillies (‘Harekala chilly', a local brand) on 20 cents of land (one acre is equal to 100 cents) when he was in ninth standard. While his father was cultivating paddy and other crops in their field, Mr Attar ventured into cultivating chilly then.

“My father allowed me to cultivate chilly on 20 cents of land, and the amount collected from that crop was my pocket money during those days,” he told this reporter.

Timing

On the reason behind sugarcane cultivation, he said he grows them to sell in Mangalore during the Ganesha festival. Last year, he cultivated around 24 tonnes of sugarcane on two acres of land. A stack of 12 sugarcanes, approximately 20 kg, were sold at Rs 125 a kg last year, he said.

Though a major portion is harvested for Ganesha festival, he sells the rest to sugarcane juice stalls in Mangalore city and the neighbouring areas.

When he started sugarcane cultivation 18 years ago, there was a sugar factory at Brahmavar in the neighbouring Udupi district. That was closed a few years ago.

Undeterred by its closure, he found potential for selling this commodity during Ganesha festival.

Cucumber loss

Golden cucumber, which is used in vegetarian curry, is an intercrop that is cultivated along with sugarcane in his field. Mr Attar said both the seeds are planted on two acres of land in November-December. He gets golden cucumber yield in 60-70 days.

This year, around 4.5 tonnes of golden cucumber were produced. He sold them at Rs 14-18 a kg. A major portion of expenses on sugarcane cultivation is recovered from this crop, he said.

However, he was not so lucky with golden cucumber last year. In spite of cultivating around nine tonnes of golden cucumber last year, he got only Rs 4.50 a kg. “A major portion of that crop was wasted,” he said.

The main reason for good price this year is the increase in the prices of vegetables, he said.

Coming back to chillies, he said now he grows them on 80 cents of land. “Four decades ago, I was getting Rs 3 a kg for this local chilly. In the last season, I got around Rs 200 a kg,” he said. Hardly a few farmers grow it. He did not find any problem with weather for growing these crops. But wild boar and peacocks are affecting his sugarcane and chilly crops, respectively, he said.

His 10 acre land has other crops such as ridge gourd, lady's finger (okra), coconut, arecanut and paddy.

Mr Attar said the number of people into farming has come down drastically in the last 10 years. Around 75 families were involved in agriculture at his Moodshedde village a decade ago. Now, hardly seven-eight are continuing with it, he said. He wonders what will happen in the next decade.

vinayakaj@thehindu.co.in

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Published on June 07, 2012
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