Sunday, January 29, 2012

Organic Okra

We sowed a couple of beds (90 sq ft) of Okra in our shade net in the first week of December. About 20 kg of FYM, Vermicompost and coir pith manure was added at the time of sowing. Minimal attention was given to this since we were busy with other activities and this was being grown for in-house consumption. No insecticides or pesticides were sprayed and to my surprise the veggies have yielded well without any pest issues.

6 days old

At 25 days

 Flowering started at 35 days

First yield at 49 days..

This was a pleasant surprise given we do not plan to cultivate Okra at our farms. Hopefully some of you would want to consider Okra for commercial cultivation and share your experiences.

Fact sheet :

Crop Variety : Julie variety by Nirmal seeds (non-hybrid)
Total cultivated area :  45sq ft x 2 = 90 sq ft (approx 1/500th of an acre)

Cost of seeds : Rs 40 (100gm)
Labour / Bed prep cost : Rs 75 (@150/Man-day)
Cost of Initial manure : Rs 50 (20 Kg @ 2.5/Kg)
Cost of organic supplements : Rs 10

Total Cost = Rs 175

Seed Germination - 85 %                                    
Approx number of plants :  90                                  
Actual yield till date : 1 Kg (2-3 pickings per week)
For our test beds of 90 sq ft -
Expected total yeild : 8 Kg (vs 5 kg based on pulished yeild)
Approx market value : Rs 200 (@ Rs 15/Kg)
Estimated profit : Rs 25 (vs Rs 16 based on published yeild)

Published yeild info :

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sharks in the farm!

We have a 200,000 + liter capacity tank that is used for drip irrigation. Two months into operation, we noticed accumulation of algae on the water surface. Algae forms when water is nutrient rich and in the presence of sunlight. While nutrient rich water is great for irrigation, algae tends to clog the drip filters, pipes and drippers.

Algae accumulation in one of the 4 tanks

A couple of farm workers suggested putting a couple of hundred Catla into the tank and that should take care of the algae problem. So we went fish hunting 30 km north of Madurai and returned with 250 Catlas and 250 'Tiger sharks'.

A Catla casualty enroute to the farm.

'Tiger Sharks'

It has been about 3 weeks since the fish have been in the tank and there is both good and bad news. Bad news is that almost all the Catlas fingerlings have been scooped out by migratory birds that have been visiting our farm (especially the water tank) for a sumptuous meal. Catlas tend to swim on the water surface and are easy prey for birds (nobody told me that!!)
Good news is that the sharks have survived and are thriving well on algae and groundnut cakes. They have earned their take and done a good job cleaning up the tank. Sharks prefer the bottom of the tank  and seldom come up which explains their survival in our tank.

All cleaned up..
Shadenet material was later placed on the center walls of the tanks to prevent bird from scooping additional fish, but it was too late for several Catlas..

Friday, January 20, 2012

Indian food market to Treble to $900-bn by 2020

Came across an interesting read couple of days ago which might convince those on the fence that "We are in the right industry, At the right time". Read on for highlights..

Indian food market is likely to triple to $900 billion by 2020 from the current $300 billion, according to an industry report. 

"Accounting for 16 per cent of the world population and 12 per cent of the world food production, India is one of the largest producers and consumers of food in the world. 
  • Indians spend around 35 per cent of their total spend on food - $300 billion annually that will grow to about $900 billion by 2020," a Boston Consulting Group report 'India Food Processing: Mission 2020' said.
  • The report adds food processing levels are substantially lower than most emerging and developed economies with only six per cent of the agricultural produce in the country being properly processed. 
  • Of the total food consumed today ($300 billion), 20 per cent is processed and it is expected to increase to 35 per cent (of $900 billion) by 2020.
"Food processing system needs to be remodeled. We have to figure a way to invest more in people and capacity among other things," BCG India principal Nimisha Jain said. "Food processing is important as it helps to extend shelf life and reduces wastage, thereby increasing food supply," Danone Director Eric Soubeiran said.The domestic food processing industry is likely to invest Rs 14,000 crore in the next two years, according to FICCI. Most of the investment is likely to come from the existing companies.

"It is difficult to estimate what will be the investment cost but company wise, Danone is setting up manufacturing unit, Britannia is going towards north-east, we at Nestle are doubling all our capacities. So there is tremendous interest in investing," remarked Nestle chairman and MD Antonio Waszyk. 

The report also found that last year there was a shift from pulses to poultry, and this year it is towards fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables today account for 25 per cent of the food consumed and by 2020 it is likely to be 40 per cent of the food consumed.

Original article may be found at :

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Farmer Profile : Small scale Integrated and Organic farming

Some of you may have seen this video but wanted to share this inspiring clip with our community. Simple and integrated farming practices do not have to cost a lot of money - just some hard work, knowledge and patience..hope you enjoy it :)

Credits - YouTube channel : PeteMcCormack2