Getting full mileage from small acreage through diversified farming

By TheHindu on 21 Mar 2017


The farmer is able to get an income of rupees two lakhs a year

Indian agriculture may be undergoing a difficult phase today.

Shortage of fertilizers, absence of proper marketing facilities, difficulty in getting electricity connection for irrigation and the lackadaisical attitude of policy makers in some States in addressing the farmers’ problems have been identified as causes for an increased agrarian frustration.

Basic infrastructure

Especially in Bihar, where basic infrastructure such as good roads and continuous electricity supply are lacking even in some parts of the major towns, and the situation is even worse in rural areas, where life comes to a virtual stand still after 6 pm.

But despite all these problems, there are some farmers who are able to grow and market their crops successfully. These successful farmers serve as role models for others.

Annual income

For example, Mr. Bhagwan Prasad Sharma of Kalyan Gaura village in Samastipur district of North Bihar is not a big farmer.

He is growing different crops in his half hectare land and has been able to generate an annual income of Rs. 2 lakh from his land.

“Initially I was only into crop-based farming. But now I have adopted mixed cropping and diversified into growing cereals, vegetables, flowers, tuber crops as well as animal husbandry and dairying,” said Mr. Sharma.

According to Mr. Ramadhar, Chairman, Bihar Farmers Commission, Patna, farmers need to be made aware of the positive impact different cropping systems and animal husbandry can have on their income.

Especially in a country like India, there are several crops and animal species which are ideally suited for farm agriculture.

“There is a slow and steady trend among our farmers, who, instead of depending on food crop production alone, are now gradually shifting to mixed, integrated farming by growing several crops and integrating animal husbandry practices,” said Mr. Ramadhar.

This has been possible because the farmers are moving from mono-cropping and/or double cropping to mixed cropping and integrated farming, he explained.

Whenever a crop, especially monocrop (growing only one crop) fails, small and marginal farmers turn towards private money lenders (as bank loans are a far-fetched dream for many of them) for loans with a hope that they can get a good yield next time and clear their debts.

Reason for loss

“But failure to get a good yield a second or third time makes many desperate and creates suicidal tendencies in their minds. If one observes closely, it will become clear that farmers who have faced losses are the ones who had relied heavily on mono-cropping and have not taken up crop diversification and livestock based agriculture such as dairying, bee keeping, poultry rearing,” he elaborated.

Safe from debt

Organic methods of cultivation, doing multiple cropping and rearing poultry, cattle, goats and sheep definitely save a farmer from sinking into debt.

Not much expense

It is ideally suited for small farm holdings, as not much expenditure is involved and practically all the basic material required for making organic inputs such as vermicompost, vermiwash, and farmyard manure are available in the farm itself.

Mr. Sharma relies only on organic farming practices such as vermi-composting, vermi-wash and neem cakes for growing his crops.

“I have my own diesel pump and irrigate my crops as electricity is a major problem in our State.

Particularly, for small farm holdings, space utilization is very important. Unlike farmers who own big farms, those with small farms cannot afford to waste space. With a little thinking and innovation every inch of space can be used effectively to grow crops, explained Mr. Sharma.

Natural resources

Mr. P.N. Jha, Member of the Commission, said, “Our State is giving much priority to conserving natural resources. We are fully aware of the harmful effects of chemicals on soil fertility and are encouraging our farmers to use vermicompost and bio-pesticides to tackle low soil fertility.”

Readers can contact Mr. Bhagwan Prasad Sharma, Kalyan Gaura, Po- Dighara, Samastipur district, Bihar and Dr. P.N. Jha, Member, State Farmers Commission, Pant Bhawan, Bailey Road, Patna, Bihar, email: >, mobile no- 09431459559, Phone: 0612-2206169.