Saturday, December 5, 2015

Owning 0.5 acre and remaining poor at 35 years is your fault - Biju Patnaik

Read an article about a farmer called Shanmughan, who was inspired by Biju Patnaik's statement  "Owning 0.5 acre and remaining poor at 35 years is your fault". He is from Calicut and is around 70 years old now. In 1982, he had a shop in Calicut and it was looted twice and he went to Bombay to go to gulf country for a job. But he lost his passport and money and he was sitting near a lawn at Gate of India and came across a piece of paper in which this famous sentence of Biju Patnaik was written.

It influenced him so much since he was 35 years then and owned 0.505 acre of land. He came back to his native place and decided to give a try with agriculture. Right now he is around 70 and makes a decent living from income from farming, but his life style is very simple. He has wife and three daughters and has been living from income from farming. His monthly requirement of money is about 1000 rupees unless there is some medical expenses. He has around 40 coconut trees and harvests about 1300 coconuts. Vegetables are cultivated in between coconuts and has 10 nugmeg trees which gives around 35000 rupees per year.

Initially he needed help to complete the work, but after 3-4 years into agriculture, he is able to complete all the work by himself, but he does it step by step.

He says "God used to give me just enough for each day. With the kind of money the youngsters spend today for buying chappals, we can meet one month's expenses. Without much demands, living with income from farming, we are able to living happily".

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Banana Circle

First heard about Banana circle from Jagannath - The Natural Farmer who does permaculture style farming in Amrithapuri,Vallikkavu,Kerala. Please see the video

It is about forming a 0.5 meter deep circular trench with 2 meter diameter and planting 5-6 bananas on the boundary of the circle. The trench will be mulched heavily and cowdung etc. can be applied here. Banana plants extend their roots to take manure and water from the trench.

Visited Jagannath some time back and he showed how rich humus forms in the trench which can not happen in the surface mulching so easily.

I am just trying Banana circle, planted 5 bananas and some 'chembu', cowpea etc..on the boundary. Here are some photos.


With rain, banana is coming up good, cowpea has germinated and growing...


Rains have receded...



Monday, November 9, 2015

Paddy farming 2015 - Season 2

North east monsoon was delayed and there was no rain in October. Road work was in progress and hence tractor couldn't enter farm for ploughing...finally it was all well delayed..Because of delayed monsoon, farmers are not having water for making seed bed ready and some are pumping water from wells, some has gone for direct seeding, some are not cultivating.

Ploughing was done with tractor with cage wheel attachment on November 6th. Around 6Kgs seeds were put in soaking on November 9th. This is a traditional seed called 'Kunju Kunju' which is supposed to be very tasty.

Germinated seeds were put on the bed. Bed was created by spreading banana leaves and putting mud over it. Since nursery is done after puddling the field, the field will have to wait till the seedlings are ready, typically 10 days. By this time, grass starts to dominate...this has to be avoided, by raising nursery in a separate area.


Rice has germinated and growing...many seeds haven't germinated, not sure why....


Nursery looks good now..

Planting device for planting at 30 cm distance..personally planted in some area,,,it is much better than using a rope method.

another device...Thanks to Dr.Kathiresan Guruswamy for this device..I made this device using GI pipes..please see the video for the original device designed by Dr.Kathiresan Guruswamy..


Transplanting completed...more or less line is kept using the device...


Not flooding the field this time, following SRI guidelines...weeds have started coming...have to weed in another 2-3 days...walking is easy since there is enough space...weeding can be done using hand, just stirring the muddy soil..


 Weeds are growing at full speed...started first weeding woman labour and myself started it. I got a cono weeder from a friend and started using it. It looks to be a useful tool, even though some paddy plants were also affected during weeding, but could restore them...


Allowed water after weeding, now will let it dry...some dry cowdung also was applied...




Doing one more weeding using Cono-weeder since it will help in aeration..


Cono weeding completed..





Started flowering....


Bird perches put for birds to control pests.....


There was no pest attack this time...getting ready for harvest


Harvesting is effort was 4 women labourers and 3 men labourers. Got around 240Kgs of paddy, enough food for next 5 months. Some photos....

Harvesting team, has a young member named Akshaya, she is not employed, just do it for fun for some time...

Since gap is 25-30 cm and tillers were less (maximum 20, average 12), it is diverging from centre and cutting using Scythe was not easy. Also Scythe was not having harvesting fitting, has to try with that. But grain shedding was not there, when cut using Scythe, that is very encouraging.

Cracks started coming in the field and it is rock solid....may be all issues with tilling....but right now no choice, no tilling does not work to this extend.

Scattered around 0.5 Kgs of sesame and 4 Kgs of horse gram and 2 Kgs of cowpea and mulched straw over this. The process is not complete, will water it and will let it grow, mainly used as green manure.