Creates forest environment with sandalwood, teakwood and fruit trees in the farm to manage water scarcity. Protects sandalwood tree from theft using technology and dog squad
“In our farm we have only 2 inches water in one bore thus with limited water traditional crops such as ragi, paddy etc cannot be grown. On the contrary sandalwood, teak and fruit trees require very less water so we decided to create a forest environment in the farm to cope with the constraints.
During monsoon trees hold the rainwater that is used for another 4months while for remaining 8 months we use of bore water. Further as sandalwood is a parasite tree that depends on a healthy neighboring tree for it growth we opted for growing fruits trees. Lastly Sandalwood and teak are meant for long term revenues whereas all the fruits trees are short term crop capable for generating monthly and yearly income. In this way it balances the farm operational expenses and net profit,” affirms Mrs. Kavitha Umashankar Mishra, progressive women farmer from Raichur district, Karnataka.
The farm spreads in 8 acre. It has 2100 sandalwood trees (Indian sandalwood variety, Srigandha), 800 teakwood trees (Dandeli), 400 mango trees (9 varieties), 1000 pomegranate trees (Kesar), 350 guava trees (L49), 400 custard apple trees (Balanagar), 250 amla trees, 350 sweet lime trees (Rangapuri), 120 lemon trees and jamoon trees. “I always believed in using the power of livestock in farming thus we have apiculture, dairy, poultry and sheep in the farm. We have a special poultry bird called Dragon Fighter, a desi breed popular for cock fighting. We have 10 Jawari breed cows reared only for its dung and urine.” she informs. Saplings of all the plants were brought only after, “Visiting the nurseries personally to check the mother plants. We bought all grafted saplings.”
“Sandalwood is a pricey crop in the world. It is always in demand and there will never be a drop in its prices. It needs less water, grows independently without much care, resistant to disease/pest attack and fetches revenues in crores so we choose it. Next we opted for teakwood as live farm fence because being hard wood it protects the farm from strong wind and soil erosion,” she shares the drive to select forest trees for her commercial farm. Present sandalwood rate fixed by the Government is Rs. 81lakhs/ton. Sandalwood is a 15year crop while teakwood is harvested in 20-25years.
Teakwood trees are transplanted on farm boundary, sandalwood at a distance of 12ftx12ft while fruits trees in between two sandalwood trees keeping the distance of 6ftx6ft. “Until 10years we can grow short duration fruit crop as intercrop in sandalwood plantation to earn operational farm revenues because after 10years sandalwood tree branches reach each other and shade area increases. In this combination it is crucial to ensure the host trees (fruits) are given balanced nutrition as growth of sandalwood tree is dependent on it,” elucidates Mrs. Mishra.
“In order to generate some revenue from sandalwood we collect the seeds and sell to vendors in Gujarat at Rs. 1000/kg or Rs. 1lakh/quintal. Seeds are used for nursery and making some medicines. After 3 years sandalwood tree starts yielding seeds. Quantity of seed yield depends on the age and growth of the tree. We usually get 4-5kg seed from a 6 year old well developed tree having girth of 60-65cms,” she informs.
When asked about protecting sandalwood trees from theft, Mrs. Mishra replies, “We have 5 dog squads to alert us about the strangers entering the farm. In addition we have inserted a micro chip in the heart wood of the tree. The chip is inserted 3ft above the ground level. If someone puts axe or saw, there is a vibration in the whole tree. The vibration sends an alert sms to the smart phone and also to the monitor the tree connected to that chip. In case the tree is cut and taken away then through GPS we can track it.”
Farming practices at the farm are mix of organic and natural. All the trees are given manure in the soil once in a year in the month of May. “We do it in summers because if there are nematodes in manure then due to hot temperature it dies and tree roots are safe. We have observed 90% nematodes die. We put a concrete ring around the tree and dig the soil. We put manure first and then after 10days we will add other nutrients and close the ring. When pre monsoon starts, the roots will be replenished. We do not till the land and allow weeds to grow naturally,” she elaborates. Manure and bio-pesticides are prepared in the farm using livestock droppings and farm waste.
Mrs. Mishra practices natural pest control in her farm. There are 6 ft high light trap poles installed in the farm. “It has light with flexible wire and below the pole we have plastic basket. The basket contains water with dichlorvas. At night we switch on the light. The pest gets attracted, come near to the light and fall in the basket. In morning the dead pests are collected and buried near any tree. The pests that would fall on ground are eaten by our fighter cocks. It eats pest in different stages such as egg, larvae, pupa and adult. It will eat it all by scratching the soil. We have 160 fighter cocks that will control atleast 30% pests. We also receive peacocks in our farm early morning and later in the evening. It too eats the pests. We do not kill even snakes because it consumes 4 rats/day, thus rat population is controlled very well,” she says.
“As no chemical based agri inputs are used in the farm the fruits are big in size and very tasty thereby entire produce is sold easily,” she informs. Pomegranate, lemon and mango are sold in Bangalore through traders. “We also put up a stall for 15-20 days on the road to sell the produce to the travelers on Hyderabad – Goa state highway, in front of our farm. Sweetlime is sold to Rajasthani vendors who sell juice on the same highway or in towns/cities. They buy 0.5- 2 tons depending upon their requirement.” Price of the fruits is fixed as per the Bangalore market. Saplings of all tree variants are prepared through grating method and sold directly to the farmers. It creates an add-on income for the farm.
Mrs. Mishra did masters in psychology from Dharwad University and also holds Diploma in Computer Science. She got the opportunity to work for Infosys but refused the offer and turned into farmer. “I belong to an agriculture family therefore since childhood I was interested in farming,” she adds.
Sharing future plans she concludes, “We want to encourage farmers to grow forest and fruit trees together as it supports biodiversity and secures their livelihood. Fruit trees generate income monthly or yearly while forest trees are fixed deposits for the retirement when it is difficult to do physical work. Above all the monetary reasons, every individual must grow trees for contributing for the betterment of this planet so forest and fruit trees are the best pick!”
Mrs. Kavitha Umashankar Mishra
PO Kavithal, Maanvi Taluk, Raichur District – 584120, Karnataka