Saturday, December 20, 2014

Bridging farm to fork gap - season 2 !


Last year, if you recall, we marketed over 10 tons of fresh mangoes directly from farms. Produce was cleaned, ripened, graded and packed and sold directly to consumers and corporates. After a phenomenal success, we are planning to increase our capacity to 30 tons for 2015 season. We are also exploring the option of a small cold storage to enable extended shelf life.

With the receding rains, flowering should start in the coming weeks. Yield is expected to be good in 2015 due to favorable monsoons. If you would like to partners with us, in an effort to bridge the farm to fork gap, do get in touch with us - info@saverafarms.com.

We are seeking to do transact directly with farmers within 150 Km from Chennai who are cultivating Imampasand, Alphonso and Banganpalli. 

Let us make the coming season a 'fruitful' one for all of us!!


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Cowpea as foodder!



Our goat herd has been steadily growing over the last one year. There have been more than 80 births and the kids are growing at a steady rate. Initially, we used concentrate comprising of Maize powder, daal, groundnut cake for accelerated growth. However, often the mix was adulterated with mud, salt etc. The feed was not only inferior in quality but also expensive.

So in the last few months we stopped using concentrate and augmented our fodder acreage. Currently, we give a mix of CO4, sorgum, maize, agathi, subabul (and mango leaves during pruning). The latest addition has been Cowpea. This grows well under rain fed condition.

Interestingly, cowpea has a lot of health advantages ranging from controlling blood pressure to having anti-aging properties. Of course, this does not apply to the goats since we are harvesting leaves and not seeds. You should be careful not feeding leaves that have been infected with leaf eating pests. We noticed that often goats experienced a rather nasty round of dysentery after feeding on infected leaves. 




Friday, November 28, 2014

Rains are here !!



After a couple of years of little or insignificant monsoon, Sivagangai and Tamil Nadu alike received a good dose of retreating monsoon rain. There is greenery everywhere. With the rains come the weeds that often become difficult to control. 

All the village tanks, some of them as big as 20-30 acres are filled to the top. Farmers in the neighbouring villages are hoping for a bumper yield after a drought like condition for over 3 years. 

While we were delighted that plants were healthy and green, excessive weeds around them was becoming a deterrent to enter the plots. Once the rains decreased in mid Novemember, a round of rotavator was done to incorporate the weeds into the soil. 

Weeds after monsoon rains

After a round of rotavator
After manual deweeding


Water harvesting structure

Mango plot

CO4 plot

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Hight density Moringa plantation



We had planted over 850 Moringa trees back in 2012. Due to high volatility in pod rates, we converted over to leaf production for pharma and herbal tea companies. There has been good demand for the leaves and supply has been pretty steady too. In order to augment our production, we have planted another 2 acres of moringa in High density – 2x2 ft spacing. 

While this type of cultivation shows promise, there are inherent challenges. Weeding is the biggest challenge due to close spacing. Incidence of pest attack is more as well. Continuous monitoring is a must. Periodic pruning is required to multiply the leaf bearing shoots.In another 2-3 months, we will get an estimate of leaf yield.


High density Moringa plantation
 Do share information if anybody has tried planting Moringa in High density.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Gumossis in Mango



With the onset of South west monsoon in July, we experienced a high incidence of Gumossis in well established mango trunks. 

This is a fungal disease and the symptom is that the affected tree starts secretion of gum at a particular point, it spreads throughout the body within three to six months and then the tree dies.
Fortunately, we caught the disease in time and applied Copper Oxy chloride – 10g/L. The affected area needs to be cleaned with a sharp object (like a metallic plate) after which the solution should be painted in and around the affected area. 

Do let us know if anybody experienced any seasonal diseases and how did they overcome it. 


Gumossis

COC being applied



 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Water analysis of our borewells

Although this summer has not been the hottest, yet the summer effect was felt due to its dryness. June was a dry month with no rains at all. We have started keeping rain records from last monsoon and almost every month we have experienced light showers or drizzle from last August through May.

Fortunately, our underground reservoirs are in good health with static levels at 15 - 25 ft. After pumping for a couple of hours continuously, level dip down to 100 - 150 ft. However, the recuperation rate is excellent and the original level is attained in 2-3 hours.

While the quantity of underground water has been excellent, quality of a couple of our bores is not upto the mark, with high levels of Sodium and Chloride.

pH of all bores are between 7 and 7.7, which is considered normal. EC is between 1 and 1.6 dS/m , which is considered light saline. TDS range from 200 to 1200, below 500 is considered ideal. Chloride levels range from 3 to 14 meq/L, above 10 is considered injurious to plants.

High levels of chloride has detrimental effect on plants, affecting intake of other nutrients from soil. I will be posting the effect of chloride toxicity on plants in the coming weeks.

It would be great to hear from people in the forum on how to reduce high levels of chloride either at the source or at the tank level. Ideas and suggestions are welcome.
 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Rainfall Trends at Sivaganga

Last August, we started recording rainfall at the Savera Farms. Although the monsoon has been truant for the last 2 years, nonetheless our records should be a good indicator of rainfall trends in the years to come. For those who are unaware, much of Tamil Nadu and this part of the country receives the Winter monsoons starting in November



In August 2013, we had 6 occurrences, primarily light showers between 2 to 4 mm. September was a shade better with 6 rain days with a maximum of 8 mm on one occasion. In October, we had 9 instances of drizzle to showers. Unfortunately, the quantum of rain was not sufficient for that time of the year. While in Novemeber, 11 days of showers were recorded, of which 7 days were consecutive. 14 days of light showers were experienced in December as well with a maximum of 25 mm of heavy rains recorded overnight.

As we progressed into 2014, there were a couple of days of light showers in January as well. It is interesting to note that there were occurrences of drizzle from February through April, a few days each month, maybe to due to climatic changes or the much touted El Nino effect. We saw some decent showers in May with the onset of South west Monsoons, a total of 10 days and 98 mm which was healthy for our horticulture crops.


June was indeed the driest month in the entire year with no rain, soaring temperature and rising electric bill throughout the state. During July, we have recorded decent rains with 48 mm. Aug 2014 has been better than last year with 70 mm of rain spread over a a few spells of mutliple days each. While the meteorology department is predicting a below average monsoon this year, we just hope that the rain gods would be kinder to Sivaganga and our favorable trend for 2014 continues!

Monday, May 19, 2014

PAVM Moringa saplings for sale


It is that time of the year when Moringa saplings should be planted. Good quality seedlings germinated from farm harvested PAVM seeds are available for sale. Any cultivators looking to setup or expand their plantations may contact us for seedlings. Buyers can request a visit to our Moringa acreages and seek cultivation guidance / clarifications from our farm supervisors. Please reach out at 94450-76595 or mail us at info@saverafarms.com.

Rate per sapling is Rs 15/- each with volume discounts for order size of more than 1000 saplings.



Monday, May 12, 2014

Tellachery goats for sale!

We are happy to announce that we completed 1 year of goat ops last week. It has been an incredible journey so far, with a lot of lessons learned along the way.  In the next few weeks, we will elaborate more on our learnings with commentary on practice vs theory of goat operations.

In the meanwhile, we have about 40 Tellacherry goats, ranging from 6 months to 1.5 years for sale. Kindly contact us if you are setting up a new farm or have a requirement for live goat. We are giving great pedigree animals, with documented vaccinations, well fed and maintained.

Call 91 94450 76595 or email info@saverafarms.com





Monday, May 5, 2014

2014 Summer Market RoundUp and Trends

Here are a few tid-bits of market info that seem interesting enough to share. Feel free to post your interesting reads below.



In Delhi, two revolutionary ideas were showcased at an agricultural conclave which attracted attention from World Bank and were duly awarded for the groud breaking innovations. One, called Veg Sav, will substantially reduce post-harvest loss of vegetables by using edible film (coat) while the other, 'FishPaneer', is a value added item that can be processed into various products like the way milk paneer is processed in India.

Veg Sav, developed by young farm scientist V Ponvizhi Ramya of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, is a Bacteriophages-based based technology. The presentation, made before experts of ICAR and UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) during the conclave, explained that Bacteriophages-based bio-control measurements had great potential to enhance micro-biological safety. It could be coated on vegetables using edible film which does not have any harmful side effect.

Onno Ruhl, World Bank's country director for India, awarded the Veg Sav innovator the first prize for the best presentation while scientist Joshykumar Khangembam of Central Institute of Fisheries Education, Mumbai, who developed FishPaneer, got the second prize.

FishPaneer is a Surimi-based valued added fish product. Surimi is the Japanese term for de-boned and washed fish meat which is a wet concentrate of proteins. According to the presentation on FishPaneer, the value-added item has the nutritional quality of fish and textual characteristics of milk paneer which made it a unique product. It is a ready-to-cook product which can be processed into various products. "The technology is simple and can be easily adopted," the presentation said.



In Kochi, where malls and shopping centres dot every nook and corner, this new shopping mall is a big deal. The agri mall, proposed by the agriculture department, will serve as a platform for all agricultural products produced in the district. The malls will integrate all agriculture-related activities, products and services under one platform in tune with modern retailing. Citizens will be able to buy fresh and organic vegetable products from these malls where farmers will directly sell their products for fair market price. We have seen similar efforts of direct to customer retailing in Delhi as well.

Fertilisers, plants, seeds, farming and sowing tools, and high-tech farming equipment will also be showcased at these malls. Like regular shopping malls, these malls will have conference halls, multiplexes and food courts. The government plans to attract more people to farming and have brought even farming equipment and services under one umbrella. Besides Maradu and Muvattupuzha in Ernakulam, malls have been planned in Vengeri in Kozhikode and Sulthan Bathery in Wayanad. The proposal will give a big boost to farmers who will benefit from selling goods to end customers without the threat of intermediaries who exploit them. As for consumers, they are assured of fresh and organic products at fair market rates, said Sunil Cyriac, CEO of Ernakulam Farmers Club Association.



Lastly about agri-logistics, though not new in India it currently has a unique positioning. Suddenly India has realized that agri-logistics is not only about trucking instead it is in a new phase where efficient management is the key to success. India loses Rs 60,000 crore worth of dry agri-goods due to poor and inefficient handling/management. The industry is going through a huge transformation.  An integrated model of agri-logistics envisaging farm-level aggregation management, logistics, preservation and shelf management along with agri-financing is the need of the hour.

India is vastly deficient in warehousing. Warehousing activity alone is at around Rs 52,000 crore. India loses around 10% of its annual produce. There is a huge potential in areas such as agri-financing, warehouse receipt financing market, etc. Like any other greenfield industry, the skills do not only vary but are hugely diverse. We cannot just paste Western practices here considering the fact that the average agricultural land holding in India is at 1.33 hectares, that is it is highly fragmented and far below the world average of 3.7 hectares. Our grading practices at the farm level are virtually non-existent. We still hold 6% of our produce in the farmer's household. Besides understanding of the Indian agricultural domain, sharp analytical skills, a keen sense of best economic practices are required, too.

The industry is suffering from talent deficit but the interesting part is that it has a wide set of requirements where a fresh graduate can fetch about Rs 1.5 lakh per annum. At the entry level, an agri-domain graduate can command Rs 3 to 4 lakh per annum. A junior-level person with reasonable analytical skills can draw Rs 18 lakh whereas senior executives with 12 to 15 years' work experience with wide macroeconomic understanding can command about Rs 24 to Rs 30 lakh. Besides this, depending on the domain understanding and a keen sense of data processing capability from a strategic point of view, one can even attract packages which can be the envy of professionals in any other field.



Credits : Times of India

Friday, April 25, 2014

Drip Irrigation : Be ready for maintenance

Over the years, several users have inquired about pros and cons of drip irrigation. Though there is abundance of published information from an academic and marketing perspective, I will try to elaborate it from a practical perspective based on our experiences.
  • There is no doubt that drip is more efficient in terms of water usage. However, it comes with a cost. Such costs should be evaluated in the context of the intended crop and the value of the produced output. Often installation can become very expensive, especially for vegetables since laterals are closely spaced.
Typical Drip Irrigation System schematic
  •  Though drip irrigation requires less labor during irrigation, it requires manpower to maintain the system. This involves frequent cleaning of disc filters, periodic flushing of sub mains and laterals, checking of drippers for water flow and regular check for leaks. In our experience, it takes about 2-4 hours for 1 person to check and rectify leaks etc on a 5 acre Mango UHD plot. Obviously, it is subject to number of corrections to be done. We perform flushing, drip checks almost every other week.
  • Dissolved salts in the water pose a significant challenge with drippers getting blocked. Though online drippers are easier to clean, inline laterals are almost impossible to clean manually. Acid flushing is recommended by experts, however it is not easy to procure acid in open market in wake of the recent acid attacks. 
Standard assembly between water mains and drip line
  • Consideration should be given to the local geography and fauna. Rocky soil can hard on the laterals after a while. Often small ruminants or dogs may chew laterals which will immediately need replacements. At Savera Farms, we experienced pea cocks punching laterals for a quick shower during our hot summers!
  • In India, there are subsidies available by state governments for small acreages and NHB for a plantation project, but most of these programs may not be feasible for small or hobby farms.
  • If you are considering using 4 LPH drippers for irrigation, I would highly discourage from using them. They easily get blocked since the cavity in the drippers is smaller. You are better off using a 8 LPH dripper and decreasing your irrigation time by half. 
Hopefully, this helps and look forward to others adding their feedback and perspective to this list.