Minting fortunes from integrated farming-

Minting fortunes from integrated farming-

Perhaps, when Ravishankar M N failed to realise his dream of becoming a KSRTC bus driver, he was barely aware that he would be more successful in life.

He did not switch to farming by choice, but out of compulsion. But a person who is passionate about innovation, he started experimenting with newer methods. The winds of change gradually blew and the decision proved to be a major turning point in the life of this farmer from Madanahalli village in Kolar district. 

Over the years, Ravishankar has steadily turned out to be one of the successful farmers despite coming from a humble beginning. With a lot of struggles, resilience and dedication driven by passion, Ravishankar is now reaping the harvest of his hard work.

Ravishankar doesn’t look like a traditional farmer. He isn’t either. For someone whose aim in life was totally different, his transformation into a progressive entrepreneur is remarkable.  

Pleasant impression

A visit to his 26-acre farmland leaves a pleasant impression. The smell of hyacinth beans surrounds the mango grove. This lush landscape that demonstrates new planting, growing and harvesting techniques offers newer lessons in agriculture. Ragi stalks virtually inclining to the ground and hum and buzz of bees filling the air immediately draw one’s attention. 

Out of 26 acres, a mango grove has come up in 16 acres and a tamarind garden in 4 acres. A wide variety of vegetables and fruits are grown in the remaining six acres. 

In between two rows of mango trees, there are finger millet, toor, hyacinth beans and maize crops. In other rows, there are tomatoes, watermelon, potato, spinach, gourds, carrot and radish.

There are papaya, lemon, sapota, pomelo, gooseberry, drumstick, cashews, banana, Java plum and orange crops grown in the field. He has grown Mallika, Totapuri, Benishan and Neelam varieties of mangoes in a one-acre area. Marigold plants that help control pests and tackle the menace of insects have come upon on every bund.

About a decade ago, he had 10 borewells, of which only four yield water at present, while the rest have completely dried up. The four borewells are the only source of water for his farming. “As I realised the water was becoming scarce, I decided to explore ways to utilise every drop judiciously,” he says. In order to prevent wastage of water, he has adopted drip irrigation and sprinklers.

To prevent water evaporation and control the growth of weeds, he has covered the land with plastic (plastic mulching). He has installed venturi injectors — the system works by forcing water through a conical body which initiates a pressure differential between the inlet and outlet ports — to drip pipes for fertigation. “This method ensures the judicious use of water and timely supply of fertilisers. This has cut my cost for employing labourers,” he said. Tomatoes are available throughout the year in his field. He sells 5,000 boxes of tomatoes, each weighing 15 kg, at the Kolar market. There is a huge demand for the wax gourd, sweet corn and watermelons grown in his field. Sometimes, people visit his farm to buy the produce. He transports mangoes to Srinivaspur market.

“The Horticulture Department has commissioned a cold storage facility for fruits. I can now store mangoes there for the ripening and transport them to Hopcoms, Bengaluru directly,” he says. 

Dairy farming is another avenue Ravishankar has explored for additional revenue. There are 25 sheep, 5 goats, 40 Giriraja breed and 20 native breed hens and four buffaloes at his cattle shed. He has grown Azolla in the pond to feed buffaloes along with regular fodder.

Depletion of soil fertility and the high price of chemical fertilisers forced him to turn towards Azolla as an effective bio-fertiliser for his crops, he says.

Being an expert in beekeeping, Ravishankar has kept apiaries at mango grove. These bees that suck nectar from a wide variety of flowers in the farm help improve the yield through pollination. 

He has planted Indian beech tree, teak, silver oak and neem on the field bunds. Instead of chemicals and fertilisers, he uses compost manure, neem cake powder and cow dung so that the fertility of the soil increases and the quality improves. He ensures that soil testing is done every year.

The University of Agricultural Science, Bengaluru honoured him with district-level progressive youth farmer award in 2014; Indian Council of Agricultural Research with Innovative Farmer award in 2015 and  Canara Bank with the state-level best farmer award.

Ravishankar claims that the revenue he gets from farming exceeds what he would have expected if he was a salaried professional in any field. Ravishankar may be contacted on 9900403354.

(Translated by JA)