A plan for the Tanjore Rice farmer (Edit)

Currently the rice farmers in Tanjore area (where I have my farm) grow 2 crops of rice and a 3rd crop of green or black gram with a nett profitability of 10,000 Rs /acre/year - all 3 crops put together. This seems not only a colossal waste of resources but also very poor return for his toil. We spend close to 3000 litres of ground-water for growing 1 kilogram of rice (especially in kuruvai). I think farmers can improve their returns as well as reduce their working capital requirement and mental tension if they will plant only one crop of rice (samba - Aug to Jan) and go for gram in rice fallow. Organically grown rice gives 60% outturn (rice outturn from paddy) where as chemically grown rice gives only 50% outturn. Paddy is sold to brokers at an average of 5-6 Rs/kg. If instead the farmers will convert paddy to rice and sell directly to end users they can see more profits. Good quality fine grained rice is sold for 20 Rs in the retail market. Organic rice can be sold at 22.50 Rs for discerning customers. At 60% outturn this translates to 13.50 per kg of paddy. See my notes below:



With torrential rains this year, especially in Nov-Dec, I dont know how much of my rice crop will survive. The fault is more with my agronomy (or the lack of it!) and less with the rain. I planted 12 day old seedlings on Sep 30 and Oct 1, which is rather late in the day. One more issue is the very short lifespan of kitchidi samba (110-120 days in SRI method). So if I want to harvest by mid Jan, I have to sow my seeds no earlier than Sep 15 which results in a kind of catch22 situation. By the time the seedlings stablize they are already submerged in rains. So I am thinking that a longer duration variety like tanga samba which has a life of 150 days, is better suited for my conditions. Secondly the traditional rice fields in my region are designed to receive and hold as much water as possible, so SRI may not be a good method in these areas.

If I plant tanga samba and go for Japanese planting (othai pattam) of 21 day old seedlings, I am confident I can get a harvest of 1500 kg of paddy per acre, growing organically. Which will result in a revenue of 12x1500 = 18000 per acre.

My costs (of which I have got a fair hang now!) are as follows:

Per acre:

Ploughing - 750.00

Seed (8 kg) - 120.00

Seed Bed - 100.00

Transplanting(15x40) - 600.00

Weeding (10x40) - 400.00

Spraying PanchaKavya - 100.00

Incidental costs - 500.00




This input cost is for an organic rice cultivation with a pre-crop of daincha of 45 days duration. The cost of chemical farming is a little over 6000 rupees / acre. And the best case nett returns per kuruvai is only 4500 rupees / acre. You can see that we save ground water, save working capital (which is what pushes us into the debt-trap) and also enrich the soil enormously without any external inputs or borrowings.

So it is possible to earn 15000 per acre in one crop, organically.

For the rest of the year, I am thinking that one more crop of short duration (like vegetables or sunflower or maize) can be fit in after the traditional rice fallow grams. (black and green grams). I also need 45 days for my daincha crop as it is going to be the main nutrition for samba rice.

The typical cycle can be:

Aug-Jan - tanga samba

Jan-Mar - green/black gram

Apr-Jun - 3rd crop

Jul-Aug - Daincha

This should give me a rough per acre income like

Samba - 15000

Gram - 2500

3rdCrop - 7500

Even without the 3rd crop the average nett returns per acre is double what the conventional system earns

Making it a nice 25000 per acre. So with 4 acres I can make a very good livelihood. This income can be increased if we live in the farm itself and augment farming with dairy, vermicomposting and bee-keeping. It is possible to earn upwards of 50000 per acre if a farmer will live and work in the field and refuse to be tempted by hybrid seeds and inorganic methods.

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