1. Success Story

After Retirement, Annamalai Enjoys a Happy Green Life

Ajith Kumar V R
Ajith Kumar V R

Panamkondapatty is a very silent but hot village near Thulayanur of Thirumanayam taluka of Pudukkottai district. We travelled on the well maintained road from Kundrakkudi Krishi Vigyan Kendra to such a remote village just because of the enthusiastic engineer turned farmer Annamalai. My friend Dr. L.Vimalachandran of KVK guided us as directed by the KVK head Dr. Sendur Kumaran. Vimalachandran is a PG in Agriculture from Annamalai University and doctorate from Tamil Nadu Agriculture University, Coimbatore, a native of Salem and settled at Karaikkudi. As directed by Annamalai, we turned to a private road which leads to the estate of Annamalai.

A smiling face welcomed us at the gate and just after a small chat on the magazine Agriculture World and Krishi Jagran and a profile exchange, he started to introduce his farm. The total land is 50 acres and out of it 5 acres were wet land, he said. Before his purchase, the land owner has given one acre each to 5 farm labourers who worked for generations at his land. That land is behind his orchard and he made fencing only because the people trespassed and plucked mangoes in bulk from his orchard. He has 750 mango trees in rows of 24 feet distance and the distance between 2 plants is also 24 feet. He planted different varieties of mangoes, mainly of himayudeen, banganappalli, kalapad,kallaman, houl thottapuri, alphonsa and malgoa.

“Recently, I shifted to high density planting that allows to plant 500 plants in one acre. Here, the distance between rows has been shortened to 13 feet and plant to plant distance as 6.5 feet. He planted 2000 seedlings in 4 acres and expecting  a good result. Annamalai always try modern agriculture methods and started drip irrigation 8 years back before Government began to provide subsidy for drip irrigation. He has coconut trees in one acre counted to 50 trees and sugar cane in 6.5 acres. Hybrid sugar cane COC 860002 developed by TNAU is cultivated and the same is supplying to EID parry. To limit evaporation, he uses sub-surface drip irrigation for sugar cane. It is a reasonably good cultivation costing 1.5 lakhs and return is Rs. 4 lakhs per year.

“Mango is comparatively risky. In one year, we get good yield, in the next year, may be poor. Selling is also a problem. So, I lease the plants and my duty is that of watering, providing mango trap, panchagavya once in a month and spraying of biopesticide made from ginger, garlic and green chilly. He explained about its use also. A mix of 2kg each of the above will be kept for a few days and the filtered liquid can be sprayed on mango plants. Mango plantation fetch an amount of Rs.5 lakh per year and that will neutralize all the expenditure including labour cost and machinery related costs. The real profit will come from other products.

As the cost of coconut is increasing, the yield of 1500 nuts every 2 months is beneficial. Vermicompost and panchagavya are the fertilizers mainly used for coconut. The most profitable product in his farm is that of salad cucumber that he cultivates in 2 polyhouses. Certain cultivations give unexpected results also. “Last year Kudumiyam malai Agriculture College prepared 40000 chilly saplings and takers were a few. Pudukkottai Horticulture farm Deputy Director Arunachalam insisted me to cultivate chilly and I brought a few hundreds of saplings. My staff expressed doubt on its quality. But it overcome all expectations and given a good yield. I dried the chilly. 4 kg raw chilly provided one kg dry. I sold it for Rs.100/- per kg. Without much effort, I got a reasonably good amount out of it”, he said. His vegetable plantation included brinjal, tomato and lady’s finger. His other cultivations are teak and eucalyptus.

Shortage of labourers is a major issue everywhere. In the land of Chettinad, most of the people above 20 years and below 55 are working abroad, either in Malaysia, Singapore or Gulf countries. Others are working for MNREGS programmes. So, large scale cultivators are trying to mechanize to the maximum. Annamalai has 5 bore wells and 2 open wells. He is getting free power for agriculture. Now, the plantation has 4 solar pumps of 5 HP power on Government subsidy. Total cost is 5, 83,000/- and in that the farmer contribution is only one lakh. For small farms having less than 2.5 acres, it is 100% subsidy, he said. Government guarantees 5 year free service and 25 year guarantee to the solar panels. He got reasonably good subsidy of 50% for tractor, rotavator, power tiller and 75% for drip irrigation. He got 50% subsidy for the playhouse also.  

Annamalai recommends KVK for getting knowledge and advice and Government agriculture officer for subsidy related matter. The officials are busy with office work and so they can’t update the knowledge. KVK scientists get training and giving training, in that way, they are always updated on the current trends. “ Kundrakudi KVK head Dr.Sendur Kumaran is a walking encyclopedia of agriculture”, he says. He is always willing to provide good advices. Sendur suggested not to pour water near the trunk of coconut tree. He followed it and made a good yield with less water. Earlier, entomologist Shankar had also given good advices. “

Annamalai is interested in experimenting and implemented five tier farming system, in that, he planted cassava and onion on the channels, pumpkin on the terrain, brinjal as herb, banana as intercrop to coconut. He got appreciation from scientists for this innovative idea. The banana variety ‘Monthan’( curry plantain) grows to bigger heights and chance to fracture. He began to cut the young ones 3 times to limit the growth and succeeded. When the female labourers spent much time for nature’s call as there were no toilets, he purchased one mobile toilet and the tractor pulls it to the places where labourers do the work. He says it saved man hours a lot.

When he brought the land, it was full of waste plants. Then he purchased 100 sheep and allowed them to graze and clean the land. After that, he sold them for a good return. He has a poultry also. One tent for traditional varieties and two for broilers. He sells chicks on a reasonably good amount and is in big demand. He gets 100 chicks every month. He made an innovation of shifting the chicks from one cage to another in first 3 months on monthly basis and then released them to the field. It is against the present system of broiler chicken farms where chicks are not allowed to move. The administration appreciated it and made him member of Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Husbandry Research Council. He developed foggers inside the poultry hall to reduce humidity and sprinkler above the roof tiles.

The major organic manure he prepares is as follows for one acre. Castor cake -100 kg, farm yard manure-1000kg, ground nut cake -500 kg, pungamic cake -100 kg, neem cake-200 kg, wood ash -50 kg, chicken manure-500 kg, rock phosphate -50 kg, lime -5 kg, dry fish -100 kg, goat manure-300 kg, gypsum -50 kg. Silt, vam, trychoderma viridis, pseudomonas, phosphor bacteria and azospirillum are also added. Rotate the same every 15 days and keep for 3 months to make perfect bio fertilizer, he said.

Another preparation includes cocopith -400 kg, banana leaf -100 kg, wood ash-25 kg, dried grass-200 kg, neem cake -50 kg, chicken manure-50 kg, cow dung-100 kg, cow urine-25 kg, moringa leaf -100 kg, avaran (cassia araculata) -50 kg, rock phosphate -50 kg, gypsum-50 kg, goat dung-100 kg and the posia (green) -50 kg. From this combination, we will get 600 kg manure with good carbon nitrogen ratio, he said.

Annamalai, chemical engineer, began his career at FACT, later joined Hindustan Insecticides, the Gammon India Ferchem, Mysore and then worked for International Federation of Red cross and Red Crescent society and was part of Bhuj rehabilitation activity. Meeting with Subhash Palekar made him a farmer and the training under him changed a lot. His wife was a doctor, who is no more. Now, Annamalai enjoys an active healthy life from morning till night in his green farm. His routine begins at 5 O’ clock. He makes a round in the farm and have coffee at 8 am. Then spends time at poultry and have his brunch at 10.30 am. One tea at 1 pm and 4 pm. 7.30 is the time for dinner. Spends sometimes in front of the big TV set , relaxes and goes to bed around 9.30-10.

While bidding good bye to him, I asked myself, why can’t I be an Annamalai, relieving all unnecessary worries and have a happy green life!!  

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