Rajahmundry: To boost horticulture production and to keep a check on spiralling prices of fruits and vegetables to make them accessible to all income groups in the state, the AP government is promoting a new concept of cultivation called ‘zero budget natural farming with five-layer model of horticulture crops’ in a big way.
This concept has been adopted from Indian agriculturist and Padma Sri awardee Subash Palekar. Unlike the conventional practice of cultivation of one major crop in the entire stretch of the field owned by a farmer or cultivating a horticulture crop as an inter-crop along with a major crop, this concept allows cultivation of as many as five species of horticulture crops in a small land holding.
Accordingly, in an acre of agriculture land, 100 sq m will be taken as a base unit and five species of crops will be raised in a specific pattern and three trenches of 2.5 feet length will be dug in it. This will be repeated in 39 other base units as a 1-acre plot of land allows 40 base units to be developed.
As a first layer of crop, raised in the outer layer and in four corners of the base unit, a farmer can raise coconut, mango, sapota and other crops in a specified number to match the available space. In the second layer, he can raise citrus and other plants. The third layer can have 20 plants of banana, papaya and other fruit and the fourth layer can bear eight plants, including apple, among others.
The farmer could use the fifth layer to raise pulses and vegetables, and if possible, paddy too instead of pulses, based on the suitability of the soil.
The agriculture authorities will guide the farmer on the number of plants, their varieties and their location in the base unit and the same pattern of cropping needed to be replicated in the remaining base units in the entire land holding of the farmer.
As the farmer is asked to dig up trenches in the base unit to specific measurements with regard to their length, width and depth, the farmer will use the dried leaves of plants to fall in them and perish. Cow dung and traditional organic fertiliser, Jeevamrutham, will also be put in the trenches. As the dry leaves perish and get decomposed, bacteria and earth worms will be developed and the plants get organic manure from the trenches for their nutrition and growth. The trenches also help plants get the requisite moisture so that there is no need for regular supply of water to these plants.
Natural farming is being taken up only in rainfed areas at present. Kakinada horticulture assistant director K. Gopi Kumar said, "In this pattern of cultivation of five species of crops, the farmer can avail of a regular source of revenue; the yield pattern of each species of crop varies. The state government has accepted in principle to provide horticulture saplings on subsidy to farmers to encourage this kind of cultivation.”
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