Absentee farmer - Vidarbha region - Good water supply

Gentlemen, I inherited a piece of land of around 25 acres (3 siblings). All of us aren’t into farming and at far off places. Although we can visit it once in 15 days between 3 of us. The land was under cotton plantation 15 years ago but nothing is being grown here in recent past. There are a couple of dams nearby and so water level is good and we have 2 wells in the farm (1 in use, 1 is a borewell and not used for a long while). There is a forest land (bushes…not trees) and animals from these forests regularly visit and destroy crops. fencing will need quite a bit of investment (around 10 lakhs) and I am not sure if I really want to do that as I am not sure of the returns. Neighboring farmers grow only soyabean nowadays.

What plants can work without the fencing? Anything that can put off majority of animals (Nilgai and deers)?

I was reading about Silver Oak and Melia Dubia plantations. Do you think it might work for me?

Is it remotely possible for somebody earn Rs 1 lakh per acre per year (in today’s money) by taking up farming as a full time job? We have plenty of water and I have plenty of zeal (at least I like to beleive so). I have money for investment but have had heard only sad stories about farming and farmers and that puts me off.
My dad was a farmer at heart but could never become a farmer but ended up buying tracts of land. I visit farmland every now and then and see not a very bright picture. My uncles and relatives who till the neighboring lands don’t earn a whole lot of money by producing soyabean…and that’s pretty much all they produce. For me to take up farming will need some chances (not guarantees) of making some good money (around 1 lakh per acre).

If I can earn that kind of money, I will be able to devote all the time to farming and use all those bright ideas that arm-chair farmer (like me) has. I have minimal liabilities and actually have quit my job after working for 20 long years. The land beckons me and I feel that I can make a difference…but haven’t been able to take the step of actually tilling it.

No. I am not looking to make 1 lakh per acre/year from the first year itself…but once everything falls in place, I would need that kind of income. So the question is, is it even theortically possible to make that kind of money. If yes, what one need to be planting?

No matter what, I intend to start planting this year and at the least will create a green heaven and a picnic spot for the family. But I am not a social worker at heart and income for myself always keeps me awake.

Thanks for reading my somewhat incoherent rant.

Identify crops that are not eaten by wild animals.  For Eg., Aloe Vera, Rosemary and similar medicinal plants fit this.  One thing is you need to have a buy back arrangement from pharma companies.  These type of crops are not directly consumable by humans and hence this buy back arrangement is definitely required.

Find out the valuable crops that will fetch your target within the limitations.

Best of luck!!!

If animal conflict is what is bothering you, why not take it step by step,  starting small with may be acre or half fenced and farmed?

Like, you could protective cultivate medicinal plants or exotic flowers or vegetables or even exotic fruits etc in a small part of land, gain first hand experience before fencing the entire land and venturing big.

When you say “good water supply” the main problem area in farming is taken care of. With proper planning and calculated risks you should be able to pull off.

Good luck!

Regards,

Thanks for the answer. Yes. Medicinal plants sounds like a good idea. And yes, I intend to start small.
How does one go about this buyback arrangement from the pharma companies? I will google and find out who seem like companies that can buyback but if you have any ready references, that will be of great help.

I see that your company greencurrent has some solution with name ‘solar fencing’. I am intrigued. How does this work? How much is the approximate cost to fence 1 acre (44000 sqft) area with this technique? If it is merely sending electric current thru the fence, I cannot do it. However, I am looking for a solution that shouldn’t harm animals but keep them away…and should be cheaper. I am thinking of LASER lights and attached speakers that scream when light beam is interrupted.

Thanks

Thank you for the post.

Yes we do supply and commission solar fence systems.

In this system, for your case we will have intermediary poles separated by a distance of 5m connected with 7 fence wires with spacing a feet apart. The power supplied along the lines is controlled pulses of very high voltage but definitely not life threatening since used with energizer.

And here is an example for costing:

Let us assume a square plot of an acre 63.5m * 63.5m, so total running length in meters along the periphery would be 63.5*4 i.e 254m. For 24/7 solar fencing, basic cost for 7 lines would be average Rs.75,000 to 90,000 depending on level of sophistication required.

If interested please share your 1 acre layout so that we can give you an estimate.

Regards,

ngulhane,
There is a saying in traditional kannada agri literature: Owner (the farmer who owns the land) 's footsteps are the best fertilizer for his/her land.  I have no experience of all kinds crops, but have been growing the usual crops like paddy, maize, groundnut, tur and other dicots, vegetables, coconut/mango, chrysanthemum etc.  From my experience, generally speaking, when the farmer is absent the profits are also absent.  This is not to discourage, just alerting.

Even when one saves crops from all kinds of pests,insects,animals etc,it is very difficult to avoid the two legged animal (that also happen to be neighbours or from nearby village) from creating unnecessary problems.  There is no fence that can prevent this animal.  No matter what crop, make sure a genuine, trustworthy person is resident  on the farm and  focus all efforts on improving/sustaining the soil fertility (which will pay back in the long run).

Good luck.

This statement struck the chord. Although I have no hands-on experience of farming, I agree with this. I am slowly leaning towards spending longer time on the farm. I’m more of a white collar person but I believe that all of us humans are farmers at heart. It must be encoded in our genes.
Actually I am beginning to think that not being a farmboy may help in bringing in another perspective to entire notion of farming. I read  Subhash Palekar’s zerobudget farming and even that impressed me (even though my life has been spent in questioning everything). I am still not comfortable with collecting cowdung to make fertilizers and don’t find earthworms very lovely animals…but I guess I will have to find my way around.
This year is going to be my farm project year. I am already feeling enviogerated by the challenge. The greatest challenges are still going to be being happy with small profits (if at all) or not being a ‘technology’ person that I always considered myself to be.

Time will tell.

So after much deliberations I decided to take up farming as a full time job for next one year. The land doesn’t look very alluring at this point but I am hoping to transform. I consider myself lucky and haven’t endured a big loss in life yet and so would like to try my luck yet another time.

I see that majority of the farmers grow Soybean and Wheat (whoever have water supply) and Chana (grams) and Tuvar. A few decades ago when I used to visit my farm, there used to be cotton plantations all over. I suspect that lack of manual labor has caused this crop to disappear. Now I know why cotton farmers in Mississippi had to buy slaves!!! Vile practice but must have been unavoidable in those days.

At any rate, I am going to go with the flow and try to grow only Soybean and follow the footsteps of other farmers in the area. If my interest survives for one year, I will do a lot of experiments.

I do get ideas like growing botanical garden and grow herbal medicines and exotic vegetables like Broccoli and Lettuce…but do not know how and where to find customers.

First step is to get the land ploughed…charges for that are around Rs 700 to 1400 per acre (depending on whether we use 3 pronged or 2 pronged plough).

Quick mental calculations for 20 acres (ploughing, seeds, manual labor, fertilizers, plant medicines, harvesting, transportation, electricity etc) comes to around 1.5 to 2 lakhs. So unless I manage to get 100 quintals of Soyabean, I may end up making a loss. But lets see how it goes. I will write a blog often and might even create a 10 minutes video on youtube to show everyday’s work. If nothing else, I would understand why farmers are so poor in our part of the country.

The most practical approach u have taken Sir. Without buying and investing u will get the idea of how things work. U will know if this love for farming is till honeymoon period or life long. I myself have recently bought a fruit orchard in Dahanu and will start the actual work in few weeks from now.
All the best for your venture ahead.

ngulhane,
Really nice to hear about a person looking to go back to his roots. The way I see it, you’re lucky to have access to such a large area. So, while it may seem like a problem to manage such a huge area, there are many pluses.

I actually grew some pomegranates at home, and had to transplant them to a farmer in Nashik area. I visit them once in a while, but did it not occur to you to grow such fruit bearing trees?

I have a few planted in a really small (quarter acre) farm plot of my own south of Bangalore. They seem to quite hardy, but they take a while to bear fruits. I, too, am looking to grow something that might yield some income.

BTW, Soyabean are badly affected by pests, from what I have seen in Nashik.

Good luck, and let me know if you need some help with pomegranate trees.   

Hello sir, How are you.
How is your experience in farming. Kindly please if you share will be good.
Thanks

you describe the perfect conditions for someone who can get into farming - Plenty of interest , Minimal financial commitment, willing to put in the back breaking hard work required.

To answer your question - One lakh from one acre is possible and sometimes more also ( which is not very often but not rare also). you could grow flowers - Chrysanthemum gives you decent returns, you could grow horticulture crops which have a waiting period but work well for a part time farmer, you could supliment your income by growing quick return crops which usually are more for rotation of money rather than making money but that still goes some way to reach the 1 lakh per acre need.

Now all that you need is some strong research and then to start work.