Symbiotic Success

Pacchamuthu, a farmer in the Village of Calicut near Port Blair, while striding across his one hectare land reflects over the days when he was eking out a meager living. One sultry day, he was as usual brooding over his ill-fate and surfing channels on TV. He sat up in rapt attention when the presenter was talking about the Integrated Farming System (IFS), which certainly seemed relevant to him as a subsistence farmer. As a sheer coincidence, scientists from the Central Agricultural Research Institute (CARI), Port Blair, visited his village just the next week to educate farmers about the very same programme.
Pacchamuthu adopted the combination of crop + cattle + goat + poultry + fish system on his farm, funded initially by a Government Scheme relating to Integrated Farming in Humid Tropics of Bay Islands. He planted crops in the cycle of rice-rice-vegetable-sugarcane-ginger-leafy vegetables-ginger. He made the best use of his undulating, one hectare plot by allocating 0.036 hectares to a fish pond. He also built a poultry shed and added milch cows and two goats to his cattle. Then, taking his learning further, he set up an innovative self-sustaining feeding cycle.
The poultry were fed with grain, broken rice and coconut waste. Poultry litter and cow dung served as fish feed. The cattle were fed crop residue. Cow and bullock dung were used as manure in the field. Fingerlings were released in the fish pond, and ducklings were reared so that their droppings also served as fish feed. Ducks also checked unwanted fish like Tilapia. Guinea fowls were added to control weeds, snakes and pests in the field. An interdependent chain of different life cycles flourished.

Meat, egg and milk paid him rich dividends. The two goats he had started with bred into twenty. He also grew flowers like crossandra, tuberose and marigold with technological backup and seedlings from CARI. His income grew at an astonishing rate to about Rs. 3 lakh per year, and experts now come to study his success story. Today, Pacchamuthu offers a special prayer of thanks each morning, "Jai Ho!" he says to Science and to God

Highlights of Success

  • Transformation from a marginal farmer to a successful integrated farm owner
  • Training and backup - initial funding by Government Schemes
  • Successful integration of staple crops, vegetables, poultry, cattle, fishery, floriculture
  • Multiplication of income and generation of employment in the village

(Source : CARI, Port Blair )