photo credits- Rajiv Rathod
photo credits- Rajiv Rathod
Originally from Mandya, they leased two acres in Nelamangla. They have a total of 2.5 acres, the half-acre for growing grains and millets for household consumption, the rest for vegetable production. Kumaraswamy is a graduate in Earth sciences, always fascinated by the science and study of soil and plants. “I do so much research on my own farm, have been for the last ten years. It’s important to ask questions, ”Kumaraswamy says.
He first learned about ZBNF by attending Subhash Palekar’s training camps. Palekar is the innovator of the toolkit of ZBNF methods and its main “guru”. Kumaraswamy was inspired by the 5 layer orchard model of Palekar, and tried to apply similar principles to his vegetable plots. “I’ve attended many of Palekar’s camps- in Kudalsangama, in Suttur, in Hasan and in Mysore. I was a chemical farmer before meeting Palekar. My father was farming in the traditional way but the government really pushed us to practice high yielding farming, so I shifted to chemicals and hybrids. I made some serious losses.”
|A newly planted bed|
He shows us his marvelous vegetable plots. There are 12 plants in each bed- a different combination of plants each time. For example one bed had bottle guard and bitter guards as a climbers on the egdes of the bed, marigold on the edges as a pest control, coriander with chilly as intercrop, beetroot underground, drum stick /moringa on the one edge, radish in between two beds.
Another bed had fenugreek, tomato as an intercrop, kol greens on the side, ridge guard as the creeper and potato as the root. On another bed he has amaranthus, red brinjal, long brinjal, beets.
Every week he gets a fresh batch of vegetables. All the plants, including the gliricidia and drumsticks/moringa on the edges of the farm provide a constant source of income. “500 Rs per week from the moringa leaves and pods,” he exclaims enthusiastically.
They hire two laborers – a couple whose children were running about, playing in the farm. Bhagyambika also contributes her labour - sowing seeds when we visited. “One acre can be farmed by our family itself, we don’t really need much labor,” he says.
When we ask him about the economics of his farm, his face lights up. He breaks into detailed accounting to tell us about his high profits. His expenses are 12,000 Rupees for his workers and 3000 Rupees for seeds. He saves some seeds but still has to purchase. His total expenses per month are around 15,000 Rupees.
|Bhagyambika and their hired farm labourer sowing|
vegetable seeds. Photo credits- Rajiv Rathod
Per bed income
- Income from bunches of greens: 50 bunches per bed at Rs 10 a bundle= 500 Rs per bed
- Intercrops like chilly and tomato: 2 kg per plant at 50 plants per bed so 100 kg per bed at 20 Rs minimum rate=2000 Rs minimum
- Root veggies: 200 plants, 25 kg total at about 20 per kilo= 500 Rs per bed
- Climbers: 12 plants, about 25 kg total, gives him about 500 Rs per bed
- Other green veggies like drumstick/moringa: 500 rs per bed
|All women workers of the cooperative|
Per bed he earns a minimum of 4000 Rs over 4 months
1 acre has 100 beds= 4 lakh rupees for 4 months
They plant 3 crop cycles per year on each bed= 12 lakhs a year for each acre, and 24 lakh for 2 acres.
They own just one cow- which they say supplies enough dung and urine for their farm operations and also gives milk.
|Kumaraswamy with the coordinator of the cooperative|
- by Ashlesha Khadse, Amrita Bhoomi