Monday, September 10, 2012

Farmer Profile : Self-reliance and diversification

Several months ago, I discovered this article online. Initially, it did not strike a cord with me and it only seemed to state the obvious. In the ensuing months, I realized that along with land crops, we should consider spreading our risk and consider animal husbandry as well. Apart from revenue streams, rearing certain animals like Cattle, Goats, etc, have known tertiary benefits to a farming operation as well. 

I revisited this article and this time reflected on the farmer commentary listed within. After several hours of discussions and many more weeks of introspection around our current agri-portfolio, I had essentially arrived at similar conclusions. Here are a few key points, I would agree with the article based on my experiences thus far. Our readers should take these with a pinch of salt and for how they may apply to their particular situation.

  1. Minimize dependence on external input. Aim to be as self sufficient as possible. I am happy to be on the right trajectory regarding self reliance with our efforts around generating manure, vermicompost, mulching, etc.
  2. Knowing what and how to grow is important. Being able to market and sell the produce is even more important in today's environment. We learned this lesson last year with some of our short term crops. Our produce was handsome in quantity but I feel our revenue realization could have been better if we had a more robust 'go-to-market strategy'. All is not lost for there is always next season!
  3. A combination of perennial, annual, and seasonal crops as well as livestock rearing would be an ideal combination is you can pull it off. Do not invest too heavily on only one type or crop. We have been fortunate that each of our crops are progressing well but need for diversifying the risk had become necessary from a revenue generation standpoint.
  4. Utilization of available resources for multiple uses has been mostly academic for us till date but we are determined to achieve it. We now have two irrigation tanks of approx 400 thousand liters capacity between them. This is an opportunity in Pisciculture waiting to be tapped.
  5. Do your independent research. This cannot be stressed enough for the novice farmer. Govt. schemes, online agri-forums, blogs like mine, etc will only provide certain facets of the agriculture experience, sometime not even applicable to your operations. There is absolutely no basis for expecting the impossible. Careful study, interacting with other experienced farmers, and experts will be more beneficial. Dip your toes before leaping into the tide. 

This article was based on an interview with Mr. Sadananda from Doddaballapura taluk, Bangalore. Feel free to contact him at 808-7659151 / 9342022146.

Credits : Full transcript is available online


  1. This is close to the 33:33:33 formula that agro's speak of. One-third for long term, one third for annual/medium term and one third for short term crops. This model reduces the volatility of cash flow. However, the caveat here is availability of labour.

    Also, akin to this is the idea of stacking of species so as to maximise utilisation of resources from a given area. In SE Asian countries, rice straw and weeds are fed to pigs and poultry whose waste is then used as feed in fish ponds. Unused fish parts are recycled as chicken feed and so the process goes on and on.

    While researching possible combinations of yielding sources, you will need to first ascertain your key factors or bottlenecks. Normally in TN, labour would be the first key factor, then quantity of water available (partly dependent on electricity available for pumping), then maybe other factors.

    It would appear that growing long term timber trees with the interspaces cultivated for fodder with the fodder being available to free-range cattle/goats and milk, meat, manure and methane (bio-gas) being generated on a daily basis would be the highest revenue yielding combination.

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  3. You can find more info at
    Rs 15L for a water tank would be very expensive.