Setting Up a Farm

Hi Swamy,

I have read most of the post and really appreciate the work that you are doing.

Our family traditionally was into farming and over the years we have moved on into different industry.
I am interested in farming but may not be able to devote full time into farming.

Need your suggestion on the following. i have 4 acre of land which i purchase recently 70 kms away from Bangalore.
It was any empty land and nothing has been grown on the land.

  1. If i have to go for fencing what would be the best way of fencing the land? can you suggest some companies that are doing the same.
  2. Need you build a small house to stay, can you suggest what would be the option and the cost of building a small one bedroom home.
  3. Borewell and electricity will have to made to land what would be the best way.
  4. Plantation can you suggest some less manpower required option even if the return are slow i am fine with it.

Are there any companies who do the sowing of the seed and maintaining the plants and trees?

Also please let me know what else would be required to set up a farm house and the cost associated with it?

Regards,
Sanjeev.

Dear Sir,
Thank you.

You can fence the land with live fence which can generate income in feature or barbed wire with poles either stone or any other. However now rainy season is over and hence live fence may be difficult even without water facility in the land. Once water sources is achieved in the land, then can manage to grow live fence. Better to get services from local people to execute this job as companies may not interested due to land extent is small?

You can avail local/trust worthy persons services to build the building in the land. But water is must even to construct a room. Do you have any water source very close to your land.

You can choose any kind of plantation after considering the locality and your choice of crop.
Yes, setting up of orchard consisting of combination of different crops is best choice for continues income generation.
Wishing you all the best in Agriculture.

Hello Sanjeev,

Welcome to the farming community. Owning agricultural land is a good choice, however, being an absentee farmer is difficult. As an absentee farmer myself, I can provide you this information:

  1. Being an absentee farmer is tough (almost impossible). Please note that I say “almost” because I am sure there are people who have done it. To be a successful absentee farmer, you need someone absolutely trustworthy who can stay on site and carry out the tasks that you have defined while taking control of your expenses. I have found that this is the biggest challenge you have to overcome. Once you get a trustworthy caretaker, half your job is done.

  2. Do not try to start multiple things/projects at the same time. Maintain a strict control over your budget. It’s very easy to lose control and spend a few lakhs on stuff you will seldom need in your initial enthusiasm of becoming a farmer. I spent almost 5 lakhs in my very first year while achieveing close to nothing in terms of returns. Hard lesson! :slight_smile:

  3. A fence/ boundary is very essential. Go for a cheaper barbed wire fence that can prevent most livestock from entering your property if there is nothing valuable to protect as of now (trees for timber, house, etc). Electric fencing is very effective in protecting your farm, but it is also a costly option. It will need regular upkeep and you will need a person always ensuring that the battery is charged, etc. It’s also heavy on capital expenditure. 4 acre farm might cost you about 50K approx (depends on the shape and perimter, depends on availability of granite poles near your place)

  4. Water source is the next most important resource. Plan for a value for money resource that the locals use. Find out what’s the popular choice - canals, borewells, ponds. The point is, there is no ‘one good solution’. Do not readily trust locals who seem very friendly and very eager to “help” you out. Ask a lot of people before you agree to spend money.

  5. Once you have the caretaker identified, fencing done and water source identified, it’s time to decide what to grow. Study the local farms and talk to your neighbours. Growing fruit trees in an area infested by monkeys for example is a very bad choice… whatever the brochures for Tissue Cultured Bananas say. :slight_smile: Remember that the economics always appear better on paper. Pretty much like the advertised mileage of vehicles. They are based on standard conditions.

  6. Go for multicropping - never depend on one crop. De-risk your investment in multiple crops, with some long term investments like trees (Teak, Acacia, Silver Oak, whatever you fancy) and some mid term investments like Banana and short term investments like vegetables. If you are okay with animal husbandry, that’s a very good short term money earner. Chicken, Rabbits, Sheep, Fish - all of these get your cash flow up and running while you wait for the plants to yield.

  7. Identify your market before you grow anything. Transporting produce over long distances can eat up your entire profit margin.

  8. Lastly, whatever you do, do it in such a way that you are not dependant on manual labour. Labour is extremely scarce and extremely costly across most of South India at least.

The above are some of the lessons I have learnt as a IT professional turned part-time farmer in the last two years. To be very frank, I have lost more money than I have gained in the last 2 years and I expect that trend to continue for quite some time. The best way is to do this full time so that you are less dependant on your caretaker or labourers.

Cheers,
AK

Dear AK,

Your detailed experience is an eye opener and the same time, felt little pain too. Like me there are several enthusiastic young generation eager to enter in farming, and comply the passion economically. about me, I have purchased land spend good money on that, while calculating the economics in farming realise that why several farmers eventhoug holding land why can not do farming properly. in one or my recent thread I have published aproximation of cost per acere and seen that at least 1.5lac per acere need to be generated .

Regarding tissue culture banana, people, company says aprx 1450 plants per acere , min 25kg banana per plant , and lower side rs 5 per so can generate Rs 1.81 lac min can be generated against cultivation cost of . Rs 50k per acere making net profit Rs 1.30lac per acere.  However Drip irrigation cost may be per acere Rs 45-50K per acere and which may last 4-5years.

When on paper such calculations are fancy and with 10acere holding can generate more than what an IT guy earn in stressful corporate life . Then WHY it is not happening like that??/

What is the real seen ?

you are an IT guy in 2yrs farming experiance so can you please share what type of cultivation you have done, organic or chemical, what are the crops, its investments, and return…etc so before we spend our hard earned money it would help us to survive…

noted from your message you lost money, but am sure that you might have increased real estate value of your property.

awaiting further comments, experiances… etcp pls.pls help

rgds
mathew

Hi Mathew,

I am sorry if my note sounded a little disappointing, my intention was not to discourage people. Farming is definitely an emotionally and spiritually fulfilling profession if pursued in the right way. I have no regrets that I have lost money so far. I have full faith that the losses will be made good in the long run.

There are multiple reasons why I was unable to make money so far and the biggest reason is that I am an absentee farmer. I need a caretaker who gets a salary of 5,500 INR per month. That itself sets me back by INR 66,000 per year. I spend approximately INR 15,000 on other ad hoc labor, be it for weeding (using a weed cutter), manuring, planting and general up keep. I need another 10,000 INR for miscelleneous expenses (approx). So, overall, I spend approximately 90-91,000 INR a year as Operating Expenses. Any Capital Expenditures are extra - that would be infrastructure related, like fencing, well, tanks, machinery purchased, planting material, planting labor.

My current yield is the following:

  1. Areca - one acre in early yielding condition - I make about 25,000 a year in raw nuts
  2. Coconut - 2 acres (approx 100 trees) in badly maintained condition - something I inherited from the seller - about 1000-1200 cocunts a year - approx 10,000 INR
  3. Cashew - two acres of Cashew - weather not suitable, hence low yield - 2 quintals - approx 10,000-12,000 INR
  4. Paddy - two acres that I lease out to neighbors so that they can grow their food - they pay me 5,000 INR per year and about 25 kilos of rice.
  5. Remaining is wild - there were a few Acacia trees that I harvested last year for 50,000 INR. I have to replant next monsoon.

Overall, you can see that my income is 50,000 INR a year. I am now losing almost 40,000 INR a year on this plot.

I have planted local varieties of banana inside the areca plantation as a multicropping experimentation. It has now started yielding. We get whatever the monkeys decide to leave for us. :slight_smile: My caretaker tries to grow vegetables - Tomato, Knolkhol, Beans, Brinjal, Chillies, Coriander are some of the varieties we have tried. Again, we get whatever is left after the peacocks, rats and insects have had their fill (which is very little).

Both me and my caretaker are against usage of chemicals, so we are patiently waiting for a natural balance to  be established. We have seen that the excessive rat population has led to an increase in rat snakes, which in turn has led to an increase in peacocks, now we have a King Cobra too. :slight_smile:  Call me crazy, but I am mesmerized by the play of nature and I think that the money I am losing is course fees for what Mother Nature is teaching me.

Most of the money spent has gone into infrastructure improvement like fencing, digging a well, buying machinery to reduce dependence on manual labor, repair of a house within the farm so that my caretaker can stay there, purchase of a cow (for manure). This in turn has increased the value of my farm. I have buyers now who are ready to pay more than double of what I paid 2 years ago.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,
AK

Dear Ak,

thanks for clarifications. In my case also I need to put care taker.  I can share with you what expenses I have projected

Infrastructure

Solar fencing                                           4.00
Land levelling, Terrace erructions…etc 2.50
Farm house                                         1.50
Borewell maint and extra motor                                 2.00
Springler infrastructre- 20 aceres               9.00
Cow/goat shed                                 0.50
Tractor, equipments                                 6.00
                Total 25.50

Farming expenses

Labour -  2 persons/resident Rs 250/day/person 1.80
Plantation exp Rs 50k per acere- 20acer       10.00
Fodder cultivation  - 2 acere for Goats/cows   0.15
Goats  -25 nos , 5 cow                         0.80

Total working capital required           12.75

I was wondering when I jotted down these projection for 20aceres which are apart from land purchase cost. In this calculations, intrest, depreciations… roughly need to generate Rs 2lac/acere. which is again a fancy and magic number.

So basically I think

Either do proper farming with planing, infrastructure, and continues investment (heavy farming)
Or try for minimum inputs/investement and manage whatever locally available in the farm.

Regarding your farming, if am in your shoes, I will take 2months leave, meet KVK, or like minded farmers and set up the farm with maximum evernue generations and then give to care taker. and then supervise at least once in week or twice in month. spend all CL, PL and SLs in our farm till all plants grow up.

thats the only way to make our life lighter and our farm richer.

with best of lucks…

rgds
mathew

Dear Ak,

Few points:

Have you tried Pepper, Cardamom,Coca? Because these crops are very common intercrops along with areca nuts and coconuts.

You can plan timber trees on the peripheri of the farm.

For rat menace you can identify the rat holes and fill with water, it  has double impact rats will migrate and you can enrich ground water. This a practical experince.

For Moneky menace, I read one article in Adike Patrike: Catch one monkey with trap. Keep  in the cage and feed it. When ever other monekys aproach this moneky will give a alert to the free monkeys not to aproach. However this is proven in Delhi. Delhi metropl sell trained monkeys.

Once you start getting yeild in Banana you will get good money. Pineapples go good along with Banana.

Hi Sri,

Good advice. I have got pepper planted on almost every areca and coconut tree last monsoon. It will take a couple of years before it starts yielding. I have heard horror stories about wilt that affects pepper in that region, just hoping that my pepper creepers don’t die on me! :slight_smile:

Cardamom and Cocoa are a no-no in that region as it attracts a lot of monkeys. Nobody grows them anymore. I have gone for Banana (local variety), Coffee and Turmeric as intercrops. Coffee should be good enough for self use. Turmeric, I harvest when there is a good rate, else just let it be. :slight_smile:

I don’t want to invest in TC bananas as they don’t go well with the ‘no chemicals’ approach that we take, that’s why I stick to the local variety and my neighbor has been kind enough to share the plants with me, so I got it virtually free. Also, it doesn’t take any special care, so whatever I get out of it is pure profit.

I plan to go for timber trees in the 3-4 acres that are lying idle now. I don’t have any plans to increase the plantation from the current levels. That’s pretty much what we csan maintain while keeping labor costs low.

Cheers,
AK

A few recent pics attached.

  1. Pepper on areca that’s almost 2 years old.
  2. Close up of pepper creeper
  3. Local banana variety and close up of the fruits

Please bear in mind that there was no usage of any fertilizer/ chemicals. We apply Jeevamrutha once a month. We have one cow and one calf. The banana saplings came free of cost and they didnt need any fertilizer as well. I got an average of INR 60 per bunch when I sold a few bunches last weekend. If you assume that there are at least 400-500 yielding Banana plants per acre of areca plantation, that’s up to 30,000 INR additional income without any expense! :slight_smile:

Cheers,
AK








Dear AK,

There is a person who implemented Bio-digester(rasavari or Jeevasara unit). If you want to bring down efforts of Jeevamrutha concept below is the contacts. Hope you are also from same region.

Article:
‘Worry ilisida rasavari’
(Fertigation brings down tension)
Published in Adike Patrike (June 2009), a pioneering farm journal in Kannada

Address:
Chitrakoota
Chippali
Post: Varadamoola
Sagara Taluk
Shimoga District - 577 417

Phone :08183 - 228048; 9449501613

Hi Sri,

Thanks for the contact. I will try contacting them next time I am in the region.

Thanks,
AK