High Value Agriculture, Nursery, Azola and Vermi

Pushpaten from Chota Bamodra village of Danta block in Banas Kantha is responsible for her 9-member family with 4 children and grandparents. She practices natural farming and also cares nursery and prepare jivamrut from cow urine. Additionally, she also cultivates Azola, a water born plant as good feed for cows for higher milk yield. Pushpaben also secretary in the Ramapir SHG group in the village. 

For nursery, they need continuous water supply. Same with the case of high value agriculture. Water is the key element after good soil and seeds. Without reliable water source, any agriculture intervention doesn’t succeed. Pushpaben said that they invested Rs.70,000 on drilling a bore well unsuccessfully. So, they tried couple of more times. In 3rd attempt they were successful. All in all, around Rs.1.20 Lakhs spent on bore well. 

With the support of VIKSAT, Pushpaben and Sunilbhai took training on nursery cultivation in poly house and set up a unit in their village by using organic compost as medium to grow seedlings. The planting materials are completely organic. However, she faced another problem with watering. As power supply was erratic in village, water from sprinklers used to wash away the plants. 

Sunilbhai with support of VIKSAT developed his own technique to water plants with spray pump. By this way he ensured that delicate seedlings get uniform water supply without eroding soil due to erratic sprinkler functioning due to fluctuation in electricity. 

First year they started with 80,000 plants in first season, cultivated 70,000 and 85,000 plants in second and third season. They earned a revenue of Rs.2.15 Lakhs against total spend of Rs.1.29Lakhs thus earning net income of Rs.86,000 in first year.

 This year Pushpaben planned 51,000 plants for monsoon and planning to add more in coming days. She said ‘almost all seedlings are sold in the season. Farmers from surrounding villages come to buy seedlings. Many of them book in advance as well’. 

In addition to nursery, she cultivated turmeric in half acre land and sold for Rs.16,000. From vegetables such as cluster bean, okra and cow pea in 1/4 acre land she manages 40 kg vegetables on every alternate day to earn around Rs.1000-1200 and earns around Rs.50,000 in a season.  She cultivates maize and wheat for own consumption.

Previous year she cultivated high value commercial crop- cotton for seed cultivation earning Rs.20,000. She also managed to rare and sell around 10 goats, 2 buffalos and one cow yielding 5 litre milk per day. The family also weaves cotton threat and earns around Rs.10,000 per year from that at Rs.60/day.

Sunilbhai said, ‘earlier I used to spray seedlings in the field and wait for rains. Now I undertake proper cultivation without applying chemical fertilizers or pesticides. The yields improved’. We also cultivate Azola and vermi compost in small quantities. We feed Azola to cows for better milk yield. 

We also stopped using chemical fertilizers for past 2 years and apply vermi compost in our farm. First year the yields were less. However, yields improved in second year. Soil quality also improved with vermi compost’.

Pushpaben and Sunilbhai went for exposure visit to Kandor Umri village organized by VIKSAT to learn the techniques of turmeric cultivation and higher returns from the crop. After the training, they took up turmeric in their own field and motivated 5 adjoining farmers to take up the same crop for better returns. They also learned seed production technic from FPO in Chota Bamodra.