A government-owned agricultural farm has become a role model for farmers with its success in integrated farming.
Its transformation from a loss-making sugarcane research station and seedling farm, for over five decades, on 25 acres of land at Pandalam in Alapuzha district to a profit-making integrated farm is a success story worth emulating.
Systematic experiment with different agricultural activities by Farm Superintendent J Sanjeev since he took over in 2002 started yielding positive results.
Sugarcane cultivation is limited to 10 acres of the land for producing jaggery and its value-added products. Branded as ‘Pandalam Jaggery’, it is marketed in the southern Kerala.
The farm simultaneously planted coconut, plantains, banana, tuber crops, yam, colocasia, elephant yam etc and vegetables on a commercial scale. The products were sold through public auction.
Introduction of seeds/seedlings production also added further revenue to the farm. Vegetable seedlings were produced on a large scale following consistent demand from the farmers. As many as 7.5 lakh seedlings in grow-bags have been sold, Sanjeev said. Enthused by the great demand, tissue cultured planting materials of plantains and banana were introduced.
Karimunda variety of pepper vines were also produced in the nursery with the support of the Kerala Agricultural University, he said.
Demand for planting materials, seeds and seedlings is so great that a new seed processing unit is being set up to meet the growing demand. The State seed authority has set up a godown also here.
Besides, fruit trees such a mangosteen, rambuttan, phulasan etc have also started yielding income, Sanjeev said.
In all the agricultural operations an attempt is made to use organic manures such as cow dung, vermi-compost etc to the maximum. With the objective of producing it economically within the farm, a dairy farm was set up with 16 cows whose number stands at 55 now. In addition, 25 goats were also reared at the farm. Now there is a poultry and duck farm.
Thus, the organic manure requirement was fully met and a bio-gas plant was established for generating electricity for meeting the power needs when KSEB general supply goes off.
Milk from the farm is sold to Milma. Sajeev said he is planning to set up a unit to produce virgin coconut oil using the coconuts harvested from 400 palms in the farm as value-addition would raise the revenue further.
The scientific and systematic integrated farming has transformed this loss-making sugarcane farm. Its net profit stood at ₹50 lakh last fiscal. Efforts are being made to increase it further this fiscal, Sajeev said.
The farm also provides regular employment to 28 people. The sugarcane harvesting and jaggery production is done with the help of workers from Tamil Nadu, who do it on contract basis.
The success of the farm has been recognised by the State government, which selected it as the model farm in the State in 2007.