NEW INITIATIVE: There is a rising demand among companies to buy the fibre. Photo: Special Arrangement
Centre for Good Governance's insight:
Banana is cultivated in Erode district all through the year. Every year, after the plant bears fruits the main stem (called pseudo stem) needs to be removed, since the main plant starts to wither and the crop continues to grow through offshoots for two or more years.
Normally farmers employ labour to either cut or uproot the pseudo stems and throw them by the roadside. For this, a farmer needs to invest Rs. 10,000 per acre as labour charge for cutting and removing the plant from the field.
Very few farmers show inclination to use the stem as manure by shredding and incorporating it in the fields. They feel that it is time consuming and laborious.
The fibre from the plant has been traditionally used for stringing flowers and in the manufacture of paper and rugs. But farmers are still not aware of the potential of fibre generation from an acre of banana plantation.
As part of promoting rural entrepreneurs in the field of agriculture and animal husbandry, the Myrada KVK in Erode designed a skill training programme on banana fibre extraction for unemployed rural youth in the region.
Mr. S. Prasath, an unemployed youth from Alukkuli village near Gobichettipalayam, was also a participant of this training programme. Hailing from a farmer’s family, Mr. Prasath studied to be an engineer and was dreaming to become an entrepreneur.
With the help of Myrada he set up a small banana fibre production unit near his village and initially produced 10 kg of banana fibre from the machine.
However, he was not satisfied with the production, so he further approached the institute for a better and more efficient machine and was advised to make changes to his existing machine.
“Since the innovator is basically an engineering graduate he understood our suggestions and made suitable refinements to the machine. This enhanced his production to 120 kg per day and now he produces about 5 tonnes of fibre a month. In a month he earns Rs. 4,200 as net income from this enterprise.
“In addition, he provides employment to 25 agricultural labourers on a regular basis,” says Dr. P. Alagesan, Programme Coordinator, Myrada. Simultaneously the entrepreneur also worked to utilise the by-products of banana fibre extraction like pith and sap water.
“In case of managing banana pith, a series of trials has been taken up at the institute to find a suitable method for composting the pith, which can be mulched into the soil. The pith compost is a rich source of soil nutrient as it helps increase the beneficial microorganisms in the soil. The sap water from the stem is being experimented to be used as dyeing material for clothes, and use for as growth promoter in crops,” explains Mr. Alagesan.
“Since there is a huge demand and scope for banana fibre I am working on manufacturing bulk production, producing of yarn from the fibre and efficiently managing the waste generated from it. I am trying to manufacture household materials, agricultural inputs and handicrafts from the waste,” says Mr. Prasath.
From an acre
An acre of pseudostem is required for generating about 120 kg of banana fibre a day. From an acre of land you can produce about 1,000 to 1,500 stems approximately.
Roughly 10-13 stems give you around one to two kg of fibre depending upon the soil, water and plant condition. Companies willingly pay Rs 110--200 for a kg of fibre today, according to Dr. Alagesan.
Apart from this Mr. Prasath is using the pith to make banana fibre pots and pellets as growth base material for nursery plants.
For more details interested farmers can contact Mr.S.Prasath, No 20, Mahalakshmi nagar, Modachur, Gobichettipalayam, Erode district – 638476, Phone: 9790039998, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Ramesh Kumar, a farmer in his mid-forties from Dongali in Haryana, is busy these days levelling the land of fellow farmers in neighbouring villages. Kumar, who acquired a laser-leveller about two years ago, charges about ₹600 per acre for the service.
“Levelling of farmland at least once in two years is crucial as it helps irrigate the field effectively, thereby helping farmers conserve water,” says Kumar. Annually, Kumar earns an additional income of up to ₹2 lakh through this service.
About 700 km away in Central Uttar Pradesh, Shamsuddin Siddiqui, the owner of Siddiqui Krishi Farm Centre in Budha village near Hardoi, has become an agricultural technology service provider.
Siddiqui has been renting out a range of farm implements, such as rotavators, disc harrows, threshers, trench planters and tractors, for a fee. He employs four workers trained in handling the equipment and earns about ₹4.5 lakh a year from his services.
The rapid adoption of mechanisation is creating a new breed of farmers-turned-entrepreneurs, such as Kumar and Siddiqui, offering custom services for hire.
Siddiqui is one of 60 farmer-turned-entrepreneurs shortlisted by Mitha Sona, a sugarcane productivity improvement project launched by DCM Shriram and IFC. He will soon be trained in financial management. “We are facilitating entrepreneurs to gain access to credit, and putting them in touch with farmers who are in need of these services,” says Joy Mukherjee, Deputy GM (Cane) at DCM Shriram’s sugar factory in Loni.
“A farmer just needs to own land and not equipment,” says Siddiqui, explaining that the entire spectrum of operations — tillage, planting, weeding and harvesting — can now be outsourced.
Yet another example is that of Ravindar Singh, a farmer in his mid-thirties, from Ugala, near Ambala. Singh not only cultivates land on a lease basis, but also offers his equipment and services for hire.
Dattatreya Kalokhe, a farmer in early sixties from Dehugaon near Pune, is another. “We have been using two tractors and a range of implement for our farming operations. We rent them out whenever we don’t use them,” says Kalokhe, adding that it helps him earn incremental income.
Agricultural population of India grew by a whopping 50% between 1980 and 2011, the highest for any country during this period, followed by China with 33%, while that of the US dropped by 37% as a result of large -scale mechanisation, said a latest report.
Centre for Good Governance's insight:
‘Population dependent on farms up 50% in 31 years’
Bad taste Exporters have been told to test the products before export.
Centre for Good Governance's insight:
Kochi, June 2:
Saudi Arabia has started enforcing its ban on import of Indian green chilli (green pepper), with the Customs Department preventing the arrival of a six-tonne consignment last week.
The Saudi Agriculture Ministry has decided to ban import of green pepper from India on the grounds that the Indian product contains unacceptable levels of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The ban took effect from last week.
Saudi Arabia, which is the fifth-largest importer of vegetables from India, has increasingly been concerned about the quality of food products it imports.
The country had complained that Indian farmers use high doses of chemical fertilizers and pesticides to speed up growth and increase harvest.
The Saudis had issued an advisory to the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), pointing out that high levels of pesticide residues were found in some green chilli consignments from India, and warned that imports will be banned if the contamination continues.
Following the advisory, APEDA had asked chilli exporters to test their products before shipping to make sure that Saudi Arabia’s quality requirements are adhered to.
Last month, the European Union banned the import of the famed Alphonso mangoes and four other vegetables from India on the grounds that some of the commodities were contaminated by fruit pests.
The Oxford English Dictionary may disappear from bookshelves as future editions may be too big to print, its publishers fear.
Only an online format would be practicable and affordable as the third edition is expected to be twice the size of the current version, according to its publishers.
The publishers say the third edition of the famous dictionary, estimated to fill 40 volumes, is running at least 20 years behind schedule, The Telegraph reported.
The mammoth masterpiece is facing delays because “information overload” from the Internet is slowing compilers, Michael Proffitt, the OED’s first new chief editor for 20 years, said. Mr. Proffitt’s team of 70 philologists, including lexicographers, etymologists and pronunciation experts, has been working on the latest version, known as ‘OED3’, for the past 20 years.
The next edition will not be completed until 2034, and likely only to be offered in an online form because of its gargantuan size, Mr. Proffitt told Country Life magazine.
Work on the new version, currently numbering 800,000 words, has been going on since 1994, the report said. — PTI
Future editions of Oxford English Dictionary may be too big for print
The Hindu GOOD INITIATIVE: The harvested bamboo. Photo: Special Arrangement TOPICS
Centre for Good Governance's insight:
Whatever be the crop, farmers need guidance at the right time for harvesting a good yield. Right from availability of good seedlings, pest management strategies, regular visits to the plantation sites by experts and sourcing a good market for the produce are not only a farmer’s tasks but also involve the experts dealing in the particular area. “The job becomes more challenging when one has to work among tribals and small farmers because the land resources, climate and inhospitable terrain all add to the difficulty of achieving a good yield. Small holdings “The government of Tripura under the Tripura Bamboo Mission, a public-private partnership (PPP) initiative of the Government, has been able to help small and marginal farmers and tribals to grow a bamboo variety called kanak-kaich in their small holdings and also market their produce, thus helping them get some better income,” says Dr. Ram Narayan Pandey, Program Manager, Tripura Bamboo Mission (TBM). The aim of the mission is to promote bamboo cultivation on individual lands for livelihood generation and enterprise development. The target beneficiaries include schedule caste, schedule tribe and below poverty line households especially forest dwellers who have been allotted some small acres of land by the government. The district administration supports the initiative under MGNREGA (100 days rural employment scheme) for creation of sustainable assets and employment. “We are trying to promote 5,000 hectares of commercial bamboo plantation in the next five years for rural employment and sustainable bamboo industries in the State,” says Mr. Pravin Agrawal, Director of TBM. During the pilot scale implementation started four years ago, the innovative high density bamboo variety has been able to get a good response from cultivators as a commercial crop for the poor. Good demand “More than 2,000 households in Tripura now grow kanak-kaich bamboo. About 350 applications have been received from several villages to undertake this bamboo plantation in the present year under MGNREGA (100 days rural employment scheme),” informs Dr. Pandey. The cost of establishing an acre of kanak-kaich variety plantation for first three years works out to around Rs. 65,000. The expenditure incurred in the first three years is recovered in the first harvest done during the fourth year of planting and farmers can harvest the crop for 15 years without any intensive management. According to Dr. Pandey, the average annual income from plantations was 65,000 per acre. Saleable parts include bamboo poles at Rs.3 to Rs.15 per pole and the bamboo shoots sold at Rs. 5 to Rs.7 as planting material. Annual income Mr. Ratindra Acharjee from Vidyasagar gram panchayat who is growing this bamboo variety was able to get an annual income of Rs. 80,000 from an acre. He received the progressive farmer award during the first bamboo farmers’ conference held during January this year. “It is the technology guidance from the bamboo mission and complete support under MGNREGA scheme that makes many people like me want to grow Kanak-Kaich variety,” he says. Mr. Ranajit Debbarma, another farmer who planted the variety two years back, is now a proud owner of a motor cycle. “This is the easiest way out to cross the line of poverty for tribal folks like us. Previously we were growing rubber trees. But rubber takes too long for a poor person to earn some money and this type of cultivation suits us,” he says. Suitable areas “Kanak-kaich variety can be cultivated as a rain-fed crop all over the country especially in the North-Eastern States, Maharashtra, Kerala (Western Ghats), Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, parts of West Bengal and Orissa where soil and air moisture is high most of the year. In other States it can be grown only under irrigated conditions” says Dr. Pandey. About 60 trucks of Kanak Kaich bamboo moves out of Tripura every year and the number is expected to increase in the next three years when the recent plantations start yielding, according to Dr, Pandey.
A day after agriculture minister Sharad Pawar spelt out the government's stand over the contentious issue while pitching for field trials, environment minister M Veerappa Moily on Thursday gave his go-ahead to the move.