With dwindling of area under paddy cultivation in coastal region for shortage of labourers and increasing the cost of production, the challenge before farmers is to increase the productivity.
“Switching over to mechanised paddy cultivation will help in overcoming the problem of shortage of labourers and also reduce the production cost,” said Ramanath Athar, a progressive farmer in Moodushedde on the outskirts of Mangalore.
Explaining the concept of mechanisation in paddy in his field to farmers and mediapersons as a part of ‘paddy field day’ organised by the Krishi Vigyan Kendra and Agriculture department here on Saturday, he said that he was growing paddy on a large scale since 1973. “However, owing to shortage of labourers and loss incurred in paddy cultivation, I had stopped cultivating paddy since 2004. I had left the paddy fields fallow.
With the help from Rashtriya Krishi Vikasa Yojana, I decided to introduce mechanisation in paddy cultivation and have cultivated on five acre land this year.”
To begin with transplantation of paddy seedlings, a highly labour intensive work, was mechanised. “I prepared mat type paddy seedlings, which can be grown on the terrace of the house or courtyard of the house using plastic sheets. Fifteen kg of seeds are required to prepare mat paddy seedlings for one acre.
To prepare the seedlings for manual transplantation of paddy seedlings, about 25 kg of seeds would be required for one acre. For manual transplantation of paddy seedlings, 15 labourers are required for one acre land. However, with the transplanter, four labourers are sufficient to plant in those areas where transplanter could not transplant seedlings.
On an average, for one acre land, Rs 1,800 was saved only for transplantation of seedlings. When the machine is used, it plants the saplings just on the surface with ideal spacing for the plants to breathe and spread roots. As a result, the plants grow healthy and yield more,” he said. He did not purchase the machines, instead rented it from others.
The use of machines would also scale down production costs and save time for farmers. Above all, farmers could easily overcome labour shortage, he pointed out. Weed removal machine could be used effectively.
Farmers should adopt modern agriculture practices not only to boost agriculture production but also to get better yield and weed out other practical difficulties. Athar said “the paddy crops were affected with ‘benki roga’ due to weather condition. However, the disease could be checked effectively with the guidance of the officials.”Integrated farming
Ramanath Athar said that farmers should not depend on a single crop for livelihood but should grow variety of crops. Though Mangalore is not a sugarcane growing area, sensing the potential of sugarcane during Ganesha Chathurthi festival, he started growing it for the last 18 years. A stack of 12 sugarcanes were sold at Rs 125 a kg few years ago. However, today the market price is Rs 250 per stack.
Sambar cucumber is an intercrop that is cultivated along with sugarcane in his field. Last year, 60 quintals of cucumber was harvested and he has fetched Rs 80,000. A major portion of expenses on sugarcane cultivation is recovered from this crop, he said.
At the same time, he has been growing Harekala chilly since his high school days, on 40 cents land. He has been harvesting more than two quintals of chilly. “I sold 26 kg of Harekala chilly on Friday. The market price for Harekala chilly is Rs 230 per kg.”
Vegetables like yard long beans (both hybrid, and local variety), brinjal, ridge gourd, ‘basale,’ ‘harive,’ lady's finger (okra), coconut and arecanut are grown in his land. Athar has also tried his luck in growing water melon on 20 cents of land. He has harvested 30 to 35 quintals of watermelon last year.
Krishi Vigyan Kendra Programme Coordinator Dr H Hanumanthappa, KVK Subject specialist Harish Shenoy, Agriculture department Joint Director H Kempe Gowda among others were present.