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As you sow, so you reap

K Narasimhamurthy (Translated by Bhumika Rajan), October 22, 2012
INNOVATIVE: Sreenivas has employed the pit system of cultivation on his ragi field.  (Photo by the author)

Rain has eluded farmers in the State, especially in the Kolar region. As a consequence, produce of ragi, which is the chief crop of Kolar has plummeted. The shadow of drought looms large on the region.

However, farmers have not given up hope. Instead, they have employed scientific methods of farming to reap a good harvest, in spite of inadequate rainfall. C N Sreenivas from Chowdenahalli, a visiting faculty in the Department of Commerce at the Government First Grade College in Kolar, is one such farmer. On his five-acre farm, he has grown ragi (finger millet) by employing guni (pit) method of cultivation, similar to the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) used for paddy. 

As part of his experiment, he has used this method on half an acre on his five-acre farm. He has dug as many as 5,200 pits on his farm with equal spacing. This method is a new scientific one and is said to be a cost-effective one. The rest of the farm has been cultivated in the usual method.


Sreenivas is expecting around 12 to 15 quintals of ragi from the half acre which has been cultivated through the pit method. Under the present circumstances, a farmer cannot even imagine to gain such profits from his land, but Sreenivas has gone on to show that it is possible to make the pit method a successful venture. This farmer has invested Rs 2,000 on this patch, and has used cattle dung and waste produced in silk farming as manure for these crops. Further, he has refrained from employing too many people on his farm. All the four members of his family and two farm hands have done all the work on this farm. He has used the drip irrigation method to water the ragi crop. Since Sreenivas is also into sericulture, he grows mulberry as feed to silk worms. He plants mulberry at a two-inch gap both vertically and horizontally. He has employed the same method in cultivating ragi, a first for most farmers in the region.

Sreenivas explains that organic farming is easy and requires a lot of patience. It may not yield a very high produce and it is also not possible to taste success in the very first attempt. “Before we started growing ragi, on this same half acre, we had grown carrot and coriander. We did not grow anything for the next six months. Also we were worried about irrigating a five-acre farm with the help of water from a single borewell in our field. But today we are all happy and relieved,” he says. Sreenivas has also submitted a doctoral dissertation on ‘Economics of silk cocoon production: A case study of Kolar district’.

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