Sunday, September 2, 2012

Farmers' visit at Savera Farms

Earlier this summer, the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) Kundrakudi center at Sivaganga expressed an interest in visiting Savera Farms. We were delighted when the KVK staff brought along 16 local farmers from the Sivaganga district. Each district in the country has a KVK and they strive to help farmers with exposure visits to farms embracing precision farming, latest agricultural practices etc, training rural youth, facilitating extension programs and knowledge transfer.

With the KVK staff and local farmers
The focus of their visit to Savera Farms was primarily on our Mango UHD and Moringa plantations. Most of the farmers who visited were traditional farmers but showed interest in embracing precision farming and modern methods of cultivation. Some of them were astonished on seeing the close spacing of Mango plots. A lot of questions were asked on the pruning method of mango which indicated they were interested in knowing more about this innovative method of cultivation.

 Farmers inspecting Mango saplings

Phase 1 UHD Mango plots at Savera Farms

Drip system was another area with a lot of queries. The drip design was explained and why we chose to do things the way we did, relative to the tank (minimizing risk in case one of the bores goes dry in future) and four control valves (controlling water in each direction for ease of operation)

 Discussing drip irrigation techniques

At the drip system, explaining the different filters


Group inspecting Morgina plantation

It was humbling to share our knowledge with these 3rd/4th generation farmers and we really hope this visit can catalyze a change in the way they view and perform agriculture. Sivaganga is not known for flourishing agriculture due to various reasons like climate, lack of agri-promotion, migrant population etc. However, I think the biggest compliment we have come across yet was by the KVK convener, who told the farmers that Savera Farms was an example of 'Israel' right here in Sivaganga. The climate can be merciless, soil is not exactly the most fertile, water availability is about average and yet we were able to transform this landscape (with about 5 palm trees at the time of purchase of land) into a patch of greenery. Come September, we will be able to extend the green-cover into our second phase.

 If any of our readers have encouraged their local community in this manner, please share your experiences and learnings. We would be happy to include your site links in the 'Blog' section on the right.

17 comments:

  1. Lovely. Could you please explain this sentence in more detail: "The drip design was explained and why we chose to do things the way we did, relative to the tank (minimizing risk in case one of the bores goes dry in future)".

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    Replies
    1. We did not want to irrigate the mango plots directly from different bores. It was decided to collect the water from different bores into a central tank and then route it out (although melia dubia and moringa is irrigated directly because connecting them to the tank was not possible). It turns out to be a little more expensive due to additional PVC piping etc but risk is highly mitigated(in case a bore dries up in future)

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    2. I don't know about water table depth at your site but Tamil Nadu in general has high groundwater table. The state has the least agricultural pumping energy consumption per farm among all other states in India. Therefore the risk of a well going dry appears to be quite low.

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    3. Manu, I dont know where you are from, but in Tamil Nadu, average depth is at 200+ ft. There have been many stories of drilling upto 650/800 ft. Tamil Nadu in fact is fast running dry unless rainwater harvesting is practised with urgency.

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  2. congrats... and thanks for sharing such encouraging experiences..

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  3. Congratulations buddy.

    Wish you more such recognitions and rewards.

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  4. Quite a feat indeed to get traditional farmers look in awe at something they've been doing all along!!
    It is very rare to find a blog/article on agriculture to the level of detail seen here. Hats off to you. Were the farmers enlightened about the Blog?!
    One big question that remains is the marketing of agricultural Produce which is perishable, and there is no organized supply chain for it.
    Seen you've learnt quite a bit of marketing with the Water Melons. Wanted to know if there is any marketing strategy in mind.

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    Replies
    1. Hari Prasad,
      Thanks for your appreciation of the blog. As stated before, the idea behind the blog is to document what we do around here and disseminate information as much as possible. Is your question regarding marketing strategy of Moringa? If so, currently, we are harvesting double digits every 10 days. We do expect to harvest more in another 4-5 months when the trees turn 1 year. At that point of time, we would like to target retail and food processors.

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  5. Very good planning. Would you mind sharing the cost involved in setting the drip system? I am newbie trying to get into farming soon.Any literature or websites on Drip system planning is appreciated.

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    Replies
    1. Please refer to the discussion at http://techie2aggie.blogspot.in/2011/12/drop-by-drip.html#comment-form

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  6. The way TNAU uses the term "precision farming", which you seem to have adopted, to refer to "optimisation of inputs use to facilitate optimal output" appears to be wrong usage.

    The term precision agriculture around the world is used to refer to a means of farming that involves high technology software and/or hardware such as GPS, sensors, mapping, satellite imagery etc.

    See, for example:
    http://www.precisionag.com/
    http://sydney.edu.au/agriculture/pal/about/index.shtml
    http://www.spaa.com.au/pa-glossary.php

    TNAU seems to have come up with its own usage of the term.

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    Replies
    1. I don't think it is wrong but TNAU's scope of "precision farming" is definitely narrower compared to the links you have posted.
      GPS, sensors, mapping etc certainly are elements of precision farming but I guess you have to evaluate how precise you want to get. Given that most of India is still dependent on monsoons to irrigate their lands, unscientific usage of fertilizers is still prevalent, TNAU's definition of "precision farming" is definitely a step forward. I guess it is matter of time, availability of resources and economic feasibility when elements like GPS, sensors etc would become a part of mainstream precision farming in India.

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  7. You are doing an exemplary service to would be farmers.I must congratulate you the way you put forth your experiences which encourages starters like us.Hats off to you for your good heartedness which is difficult to find nowadays.

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    Replies
    1. Ashok,
      Appreciate the kind words. A lot of agri and non-agri people have been instrumental in where we are today. The least we can do is to share what we know and continue the flow of knowledge as much as possible. Do share the blog with like minded folks..

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