Agriculture is no more a male dominated sector, as many women have shown that they are second tonone in this field. “Women can be successful agriculturists, if they are supported with timely technologicalinterventions by scientists and encouragement from family”, says Dr. M. Anandaraj, Director of the IndianInstitute of Spices Research (IISR), Kozhikode.
Mrs. Prema Ganesh from Maragodu village, Kodagu District, Karnataka is a role model for other womenin this field.
When she ventured to take over her coffee and black pepper plantation in 10 hectares a decade ago,several problems started surfacing, especially the low productivity of crops, making agriculture a nonprofitable enterprise.
Keen to overcome them, she happened to attend one of the seminars organised by IISR’s CardamomResearch Centre (CRC) at Appangala in Kodagu on spices cultivation.
“It was a turning point in my life,” recollects Ms Ganesh. The scientists at CRC assured full technological support to her ventures. A team from CRC visited herplantation and identified some major production constraints such as high plant density per unit area,prevalence of diseases and pests, problems like spike shedding in black pepper etc.
They provided a complete package of practices to be followed including thinning of excess plant growth tomaintain optimum spacing among them, adoption of basin management techniques like application oforganic manures, micronutrient application, earthing up and mulching for various crops.
“In the case of black pepper, special recommendations like basin irrigation at the rate of 40-50 litres ofwater at 4-5 times per vine at an interval of 5-7 days during May-June in case of delayed monsoon,regulation of shade by pruning the support trees to provide minimum 50-60 per cent exposure to sunlightwere suggested,” says Dr. S J Ankegowda, Head, CRC, Appangala
For diseases and pests, spraying of two rounds of Bordeaux during June and August/September and oneround of drenching with 0.2 per cent Copper Oxy Chloride (COC), and need based application ofinsecticides were also recommended.
Trees like balangi, palawan and silver oak were planted at a spacing of 15x15 feet (random) to provideadequate shade to the crops.
In addition she readied several rainwater harvesting pits of 10 feet length, 1.5 feet width and 1.5 feetdepth between the coffee plants.
These pits also serve as compost pits where all the farm wastes are dumped for two years to decomposeafter which they are removed and applied as organic manure to coffee and pepper, substantially reducingthe cost on purchase of farm yard manure.
Ms. Ganesh makes use of composed coffee cherry husk, a by-product of coffee pulping, after mixing withcow dung as an additional source of organic manure.
Annually she spends Rs. 35,000 per acre as operational cost and gets about Rs. 25 lakhs a year as netincome from both black pepper and coffee. Reducing manual labour was an important initiative by her.“First thing they did was to lay motorable roads inside the plantation. This has reduced the strain incarrying the harvested produce in bags by labourers.
Before the roads were laid, a labourer would take about 30 minutes to carry the bag to the main road forloading it on the lorries.“The physical strain was quite heavy. But now this has considerably reduced since the vehicles can comeinto the plantation,” says Dr. Ankegowda.
Another initiative was the underground pipe-lining for irrigation. Today the entire plantation has wellconnected irrigation line ready for irrigation all through the year.
For more details contact
Mrs. Prema GaneshPrema EstateMaragodu VillageMadikeri, Kodagu district- 571 201Ph: 08272-241555, orDr. S. J. AnkegowdaHead, IISR Cardamom Research CentreAppangalaMadikeri-571201, Karnatakamobile: 09663069241phone: 08272-245451.