Pokkali is a naturally organic farming system in the coastal areas of Ernakularn district that involves alternate growing of Paddy and Shrimp in the same field. Pokkali farming system which was sustained mainly on the income from shrimp turned loss due to wide spread attack of White Spot Symptom (WSS) virus infection in Shrimps. Labour shortage, high wages, lack of machinery, lack of branding to Pokkali products etc. accelerated the crisis. Most of the Pokkali fields which harvested lots of organic paddy and shrimp in the past are kept barren at present.
KVK’s intervention: A survey conducted among Pokkali farmers way back in 2011 revealed that ensuring more income per unit area from Pokkali fields is the only way to attract farmers back to this organic farming system and bringing back its glory. In order to reap more profit, KVK introduced athird component-Cage fish farming and demonstrated it as profitable during last three years. Pearlspot, Mullet and Seabass are the species suitable for Pokkali fields. Pearlspot andMullet can be grown in the open field, whereas Seabass being carnivorous require confined farmingin cages. Cages can be positioned in field channels and sluice pits.
Traditional paddy farming yield a profit of only 25,000/- per ha, whereas paddy and shrimp together yield a profit of INR50,000- per ha. This could be augmented to 1.3 lakhs per ha in the newly introduced Paddy-shrimp-cage culture integrated system.
Subsequent to the success of this integrated farming, the Fish Farmers Development Agency (FFDA) under the State Government has initiated a subsidy scheme - Integrated fish farming in Pokkali fields. Under this, the agency support fish farming both in open Pokkali fields and also in cages sited in Pokkali fields. Total of 100 ha open fields and 100 cages would receive financial assistance (INR4000/- per cage and INR20,000 per ha open field). KVK extended technology backstopping to 15 farmer groups. Subsequently a Pokkali farmer producer company got registered with 50 member farmers and 11 director board members.
Mr.Joseph Thakadiyil from Kothamangalam (Ph: 9446687191) was a traditional aqua farmer mainly doing small scale fresh water fish culture in his small ponds of 50 sent area. Due to lack of scientific practices, the venture was not given good income and slowly the ponds became abandoned. He was hardly earning INR35,000 from this venture annually. KVK formulated a package of practice for the small scale fish seed production using the portable carp hatchery system in his field and provided hands on training. Subsequently Catlacatla, Labeorohita and Cyprinuscarpio were bred in the portable carp hatchery system. He is presently producing 1,20,000 No. of fresh water fish seeds annually and earning INR 1,20,000 per year from this venture.
Mr.Ambrose Thommissery (Ph: 0484-2248638) was doing traditional shrimp farming in his 80 cent water body since 1998. Maximum profit ever realized for his venture was INR 48,000 during 1999. Thereafter a sum of Rs. 12000 per year was his average profit from the traditional shrimp farming from this area. KVK implemented a frontline demonstration on Scientific mullet farming in his field for 11 month period. Profit from the new programme was INR 2,00,000/-. The farmer deposited an amount of INR50,000/- from this profit towards the next years operational cost. This programme created a new avenue in the brackish water shrimp farming industry which is affected by virus disease on shrimps. It popularized the high value fin fish farming in place of shrimps. The programme also demonstrated a method for utilizing abandoned brackish water bodies.
Mr. Saigal a young farmer from Ezhikkara (Ph: 9846823043) was getting a profit of INR 50,000/- per ha from his pokkali fields where paddy and shrimp were alternatively grown. KVK demonstrated integration of Fin Fish Culture in cages also to his system. The objective of this programme was to increase total income per ha in pokkali fields. The fixed cost required for the cage culture in 1 ha pokkali fields is INR 88,200/-. Since the assets can be used for 5 years, the fixed cost per year would be INR 17,640/-. The operational cost per year is INR 90,000/-. The gross income per year Saibil got was INR 1,90,000/- and the profit per year was INR 83,000/- only from cage culture.
Mr. Shaji Varghees, Kottanakkottil (H), varapetty (PO)( Ph. 9446138345) was conventionally doing fish farming in his ponds of 0.2 ha area earning a profit of INR 5,000 annually. KVK demonstrated High density cage culture of Pearl spot (Karimeen) in his abandoned granite quarry. During a period of 10 months he produced 200 kg of fish. The investment per one season of 12 months was INR 30,000/-. The net income was INR65,000 leading to a profit of INR 36,900/- from three cages and BC ratio was 1.23. KVK could popularize this programme as an enterprise and the farming was in a business mode. He became KVK’s torch bearer in this technology and more farmers in the district are attracted by the initiative and have started to use their own quarries for fish culture ventures
Mr. Thomas from Ayoor village of Kunnukara (Ph. 9567434390) grama panchayath was a traditional rice farmer. KVK conducted a frontline demonstration in his field on System of Rice Intensification (SRI) method developed by International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Phillippenes. Mr. Thomas has saved 30% labour by adopting this technology. Quantity of seed required for cropping was also drastically reduced. Normal transplanting required 30 to 40 Kg seed/ ha , but SRI required only 6 Kg seed thereby saving on the cost of seed. There is a saving of Rs. 1000/ ha for the cost of seeds, Rs.1000 for irrigation and 15 Nos of labour @ Rs.300/person. So a total of Rs. 5000 to 6000 is saved per hectare and the production was 27% higher than the normally transplanted rice crop. The additional per hectare yield of 7 quintal observed in SRI system in comparison with the normal system of transplanting provided an additional income of Rs.14,000.00 apart from the cost saving on labour, irrigation and seeds.
Carp breeding towards seedling production Mullet bumber harvest for Shri Ambrose
Cool season vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower, beetroot, carrot and onion hold a major share among vegetables in an average Keralite’s diet, whereas all these produce comes from other states. In this circumstance KVK has undertaken demonstrations on NS-60, Pusa meghna varieties of cauliflower and NS-163, NS-183 varieties of cabbage in 20 locations of Ernakulam district. NS-60 of cauliflower and NS-163 of cabbage were found to be promising varieties which recorded 33.8 MT/ha and 38.5 MT/ha productivities respectively in Ernakulam. These varieties are found to be well suited for the district’s agro climatic conditions. KVK popularized these as homestead crops to ensure safe vegetable production organically. These crops are grown in rooftop gardens and in kitchen gardens. KVK imparted trainings to 168 farmers, 3 residents associations and 5 SHG groups on cool season vegetable cultivation. In order to create interest among students, KVK set up demonstration plots in FISAT Engineering college., St Pauls College, Kalamassery and VHSE, Thirmaradi Secondary school. The carrot variety super kuroda was demonstrated in KVK organic farm. On farm testing on onion cultivation taken up during 2010 in 5 locations in Ernakulam district. An FLD on “Agrifound Dark Red” variety of onion is on going presently at 5 locations in Ernakulam. In order to further popularize growing of these varieties KVK is making all efforts to supply seedlings of cool season vegetables from September end to mid November through KVK’s seedling production unit.
Rain shelters solve the hassles of cultivating vegetables during rainy season. The harmful effects of rainwater during high precipitation time which is falling directly on crops can be avoided in rain shelters. The infestation of diseases and pests are less when grown in rain shelter. KVK has done 3 demonstrations on rain shelters in the fields of Mr. Ramakrishnan, Kangarappadi, Mr. Manuel at kattipparambu and Mr. C V Mathew, Kumbalangi. They respectively produced 325,280 and 195 kg of vegetables from rain shelters of 40 m2 area during the rainy season in the months of June to December. The farmers learned that vegetable forcing or off season vegetable cultivation is possible if cultivation is done in rain shelters. Arka Anamika variety grown to 8 ft height inside rain shelters at Mr.Ramakrishnan’s rain shelter. General increase in yield up to 2.5 times compared to the raised bed system of planting was observed in all rain shelters. The quality of fruits harvested from rain shelters was also good. The construction cost of rainshelter for one cent area is Rs.7500 and this structure can be used for 4-5 years.
Subsequent to the demonstrations KVK received 200 numbers of enquiries from farmers. Farm Information Bureau of Kerala is presently acknowledging KVK’s intervention in rain shelters and considering KVK Ernakulam as the resource centre on rain shelter management. KVK also created a rain shelter task force and trained them on rain shelter construction.
Maize is considered as one of the most important cereal crops in the global agriculture economy both as food and fodder crop. But it is not being cultivated in Kerala, whereas maize products like fresh cobs, corn starch, corn flakes, baby corn, sweet corn, etc. are being widely consumed by Keralites. In addition, maize is an integral part of feed for cattle, poultry and fish. Grains are available in the market for using as feed stuff. By knowing the importance of Maize, KVK conducted an experiments and proven that maize can be grown in all seasons in Kerala with an average production of 5 MT /ha. Subsequently maize cultivation introduced in farmers fields first time in Kerala during 2011-12. Main advantage of the Maize is hardiness to grow in adverse conditions with minimum care. KVK demonstrated Maize as a suitable crop for intercropping in Coconut gardens, tapioca, and cowpea. Presently more than 500 farmers are doing Maize cultivation in Ernakulam district. KVK has also developed marketing linkages for fresh cobs.
Palak is a rich source of Vitamin A, B, C and Ca etc and nutritionally better than the common leafy vegetable of Kerala-Amaranthus. Palak is a traditional leafy vegetable cultivated extensively in North India and is not popular in Kerala. KVK introduced Palak cultivation and popularised its nutritional properties in Ernakulam. Varieties like All green and Harit Shobha were tested and found a production of 2MT/ha and 2.2 MT/ha respectively. KVK started supplying Palak seeds round the year. So far 25 kg seeds were distributed, which can cover an area of 1.5 ha. The outcome of the programme is that 2.5 ha of Amaranthus fields in Ernakulam got converted to Palak ensuring more nutritional security.
Jasmine is the most commonly used flower in Kerala during all occasions, whereas jasmine cultivation did not exist in the district till 2001. Jasmine cultivation was in a primitive stage in Ernakulam district till 2005. By understanding the importance of this crop, KVK started training programmes, farmers meet, field visits, consultancy, and technical guidance during 2006-2007. Jasmine growers Association in the villages Parur, Kuzhipilly, Edavanakad, Narakkal, Elamkunnapuzha, Puthuvype, Irapuram, Pallikara, Parakodu, Pattimattam, and Mazhuvanoor formed. Pot cultivation was advocated initially and 20 farmers started this venture in Edavanakad. A society was formed for flower procurement and marketing namely Kutimulla Karshagasamithi It has a membership of 100 registered Jasmine farmers at present. The society caters to the need of the farmers by way of supplying fertilizer, pesticides and fungicides. The society also functions as a collection centre for bulk marketing. The society makes and markets bouquet and garlands which gives employment to rural women and also gives more income which is shared among the members. Subsequently societies were formed in Narakkal, Elamkunnapuzha, Mazhuvanoor and Kunnathunad also. These societies have a total membership of more than 250 farmers. An average 2000 kg of jasmine flower per day has been produced and sold locally and also exported in the district. A district level Jasmine grower’s co- operative society has also been formed by the cultivators with 1080 registered members. The KVK intervention created total area of 50 ha in the district under Jasmine cultivation.
SC/ST women started nursery units subsequent to KVK’s 5 days training to 11 selected Scheduled caste tribe women sponsored by the District scheduled caste development agency during March 2012-2013. Out of the selected 11 candidates, 5 were from the tribal area of malayattoor, 3 from Kunnathunadu and 3 from Edakkattuvayal . They were provided hands on training on all aspects of nursery management including propagation of fruits, vegetables and flowers, disease and pest management in nurseries and nutritional management of different crops in nurseries. Special emphasis was given on different types of budding, grafting , layering and cutting. Techniques of raising vegetable seedlings in protrays were also covered in the training.
Subsequently, SC/ST development corporation has provided each candidate 5 cent land and INR 50,000/- as seed money to start nursery units. They have started their respective nursery units and presently managing the production and sales of garden plants. They are procuring seeds of flower plants and raising it in paper cups /poly bags and selling through their counters @Rs.5/plant. Apart from that they raise garden plants from cuttings with their own effort. At an average, each nursery unit earns a net profit of INR.3500/- per month. KVK team visits their units for monitoring and giving technical guidance.
Mushroom cultivation was not popular in the Ernakulam District till 2000. Due to lack of facilities/expertise with Government agencies, interested farmers attend trainings arranged by private agencies on payment basis. These agencies charge INR 3000 for a training of 1 day duration. The mushroom spawn used to be distributed for trainees at high prices, whereas it was not available elsewhere. Many farmers attended these trainings and started cultivation. Due to after training consultancy and lack of availability of spawn, these units were not sustainable. It is during this time in 2007 KVK started mushroom training of 3 days duration covering culture and spawn production. In addition, leaflets were prepared and distributed, radio programmes were done and news paper coverage ensured. During the last 5 year period, KVK could create considerable awareness in this area. After training consultancies were also done free of cost and marketing on group basis promoted. This boosted the confidence of the farmers. Now there are 20 number of successful mushroom farmers in the district with KVK intervention. The investment required for a 100 bed mushroom unit is INR 15000 including cost of a shed. Recurring cost of INR 5000 may be required to change the beds once in 3 months. Average monthly production of 18 kg can be expected which gives a net income of INR 3600 per month. Hence 100 bed mushroom unit gives a profit of INR 43200 per annum.
Mr. Sree kumar A. S, Ambika vilasam, P. C. John lane, Perumbavoor PIN 683 542 (Mobile 8089237005) is a mushroom farmer doing oyster mushroom cultivation. Basically he is an electronic appliances service provider who has struggled a lot to start mushroom cultivation. He attended training on mushroom cultivation at KVK Narakkal during April, 2012 and started mushroom cultivation using Rubber sawdust as a substrate and produced oyster mushroom at the rate of 10 kg per day. Due to non availability of spawn in time he started spawn production also. He earns INR 6 lakhs per annum from mushroom and spawn production.
KVK trained shrimp farmer Mr.Nizar A.M., Azhivelikkakathu house, Edavanakkadu -682502 (Ph No:9895670672) on Fish polyculture towards livelihood security. Mr.Nizar possess nine acre traditional shrimp pond. He was a successful shrimp farmer till the attack of White Spot Syndrome Viral (WSSV) disease till 2006 bearing a profit of INR 5.0 lakhs per year. WSSV completely washed out his shrimp culture within two years of time putting him into a loss of INR 75,000/- . At this time, he approached KVK for viable alternate aquaculture model suitable in his pond. After visiting his field, KVK team formulated a package of practice and gave support for converting the traditional shrimp farm into finfish poly culture. Subsequently he initiated poly culture of Mullets, Pearl spots, Mud crabs during 2008 following a package recommended by KVK. KVK assisted him in seed sourcing, feeding, disease management and marketing. The polyculture venture was a real success and now he earns INR 4 lakhs annually from the 9 acre area. His farm was selected as one of the best model farm and all the trainees of KVK are getting a exposure field visit to his farm to learn the successful practices. He delivers success stories to all the visiting farmers and trainees.
KVK has identified an SHG group consisting of 5 members from Edavanakkad grama panchayath in vypeen island of Ernakulam district to assist KVK team in its commercial ventures. All of them are house wives who were dependents of their husbands. The KVK team imparted training to this group on production of portray seedlings, Panchagavya, Fish Amino acid, Enriched neem cake, neem oil, fruit fly trap, pheromone trap, Neem soap, organic vegetable production, rabbit breeding, poultry hatchery management, precision farming etc during the period from 2011 to 2013. They developed skill in packaging, keeping stock of products, marketing, account keeping etc. also. In addition, they learned the usage of these products and give advisory services to the farmers who purchase the products. They are working full time managing KVK’s sales counter. Presently each of them earn INR 6,000/- monthly.
The farming of Mud crab (Scylla serrata) is a very good income generating programme for the brackish water area. This species are fast growing than the other species in the genus. In this context KVK has conducted three hands on training programmes on Mud Crab farming with the collaboration of National Fisheries Development board (NFDB), Brackish water Fish Farmers Development, Ernakulam and Agency for Development of Aquaculture Kerala, for the 70 progressive fish farmers from all over the state during the period 2008 to 2012. Hatchery produced seeds of Mud crab (Scylla tranquebarica) were supplied from KVK sourced from Central Institute for Brackish Water Aquaculture (CIBA), Chennai. KVK team standardized and administrated the feeding schedule and new feed mixture (trash fish and chicken offal in 1:2 ratio). In addition, the technology of growing crabs in confined environment during moulting stage to protect them from predators was also recommended. Eight farmers initiated Mud crab farming in a total area of 10 acres of brackish water (Mr. Sajeevan, Nayarambalam, Cherai 9388634719), Mrs. Suraja, Chendamangalam, Paravoor(9387724976), Mr. Retheesh, Piravam, Ernakulam (890733112) and Mr.Nizar A.M., Azhivelikkakathu house, Edavanakkadu -682502 (9895670672). Annual average income from the Mud crab culture is INR70,000 per hectare area.
Hands-on training on scientific rabbit breeding was imparted to 343 farmers in KVK rabbit breeding unit. Among the trainees, 21 numbers were selected on the basis of their interest and follow up trainings and consultancies were given. Subsequently 10 number of farmers have developed skill in scientific rabbit breeding covering selection of breeders, feed management, disease management, house keeping, prevention of inbreeding to produce quality purebred kits, maintenance of breeding registers, stock registers, cost economics register, identification of successful breeding, care during breeding, care and management of pregnant animals and kits, identification of rabbit kits for distributing as purebred breeding stock etc.
Among those who developed skill, Mr. Shicin C.J., Chettiveetil (H), Pallurthy, Perumpadappu (Mr. James P.A, Kallupallam Ph.No.9539072493, Mr.Harris, Vazhakkala, Thrikkakkara Ph.No.9447733716, , Mrs Sarasamma, Kakkanad Ph.No. 0484-2422999, Ms Sajitha, Mattanchery Ph.No.9846808752, Mr. Suraj A.R., Athani, Kakkanad Ph.No.9497022043, Mrs Jamuna, Puthuvypu, Vypeen PhNo. 9947420856 and Mr.Joby,Oonjapara Ph.No. 9846426556) has been selected for starting KVKs satellite rabbit breeding unit in public-private partnership mode. 7 no. of small scale rabbit breeding units have been set up in the district by these trainees (pl. give address and contact numbers of all). One of the trainee Mr.B.Ravi, Kerera, Edappally Ph.No 9947223137 is initiating a rabbit breeding unit of 50 breeding stock capacity in his native place at Shoranur.
As part of KVK’s campaign towards safe vegetable production in homesteads to tackle the health hazards of pesticide residues in the commercially available vegetables, skill development in homestead vegetable farming could be achieved in 33 number of households in the district during past 5 years. All the participants got skill on production of compost using locally available materials like coir pith, kitchen waste, biogas slurry, cow dung etc., potting mixture preparation, filling media in planting bags, botanical insecticide making (Tobacco decoction, Neem sedd kernel extract, Kiriyath emulsion etc.,), home-made fungicides (bordo mixture), growth promoters (Panchagavya and fish amino acid), organic fertilizer application (Neem cake-GNC Mixture). Famers were also imparted knowledge on preparation of ‘trellis’ in rooftops for growing trailing vegetables. Some of them are imparting trainings to fellow farmers also. They are Mrs. Bindhu Philip (9847533006), Mary Jacob (9249394356) and Mr. Raja Gopal (9496562696)
KVK Ernakulam has production technology of different products such as Fish pickle, Prawn pickle, Squid pickle, Mussel pickle, Clam pickle, Roasted prawn, Prawn chutney powder, Prawn wafers, Fish/Prawn cutlet, Fish/Prawn samosa, Frozen products etc. We believe that mere training on the production technology will not create an entrepreneur. Hence KVK formulated Comprehensive entrepreneurship development programme which covered bulk purchasing methods, transportation, raw material storage, cleaning, size reduction, production, primary and secondary packing, packet designing, labeling, trade mark design and registration, market study, test marketing etc. The course also covered scope of financial assistances available, statutory licenses required for a sea food processing unit etc. In addition KVK facilitate obtaining FSSAI registration, SSI registration, licenses from local bodies, pollution control board, legal metrology etc.
Mr. Sukumaran (ph.9349854180), Moonnuthuruthil from Kodungallore attended this training during 2012-13 and started an industry with a brand name-KAYAL CHEMMEEN. He started the production and marketing of ready to cook dried prawn, ready to eat Prawn roast and ready to eat Prawn chutney powder in his brand name during November 2013. Now he is getting a monthly income of INR 42,000/-. Presently he is an employer of five women labours at his production unit.
Mr. Retnald (ph 9446103119) aged 44 hailing from a fisherman family of Poovar village in Trivandrum district also attended training at KVK, Enakulam during 2007-08. He started similar industry during 2010. He produce roasted prawn and dry fish. He produce 100 kg of fish products presently earning a monthly income of INR 35000/-.
Mr Sajish Kumar, Narakkal, Vypeen (Ph 9995271947) attended KVKs training during 2012-13 and started a small scale fish processing unit. This industry is marketing fish pickle under the brand name Malayalee foods. He is producing and marketing 25 kg of fish and prawn pickle per month earning a profit of INR 45000 annually. In order to upscale his unit, KVK prepared a project feasibility report for a small scale Fish pickle production unit for Rs.4.6 lacks for him to obtain Bank loan.
More than 6000 granite quarries existing the foot hills of Western Ghats, the longest mountain range of Southern India. These perennial fresh water reservoirs are optimum for initiating fish culture whereas normal farming methods are not viable due to the depth ranging from 10 to 60 meters that would make harvesting practically impossible. With a view to utilize these resources, a cage fish culture model was demonstrated in partnership with a traditional farmer. Small floating cages made using HDPE nets and PVC pipes were erected in the quarry. Locally preferred fish species Pearl spot, Tilapia and Pangasius were cultured in cages.
Output of the intervention: Average production from one cage was 130 to 150 Kg and the farmer received a net income of INR 14,300/-. One cent area can accommodate 7 such cages. The demonstration realized the practical viability of the model as an income generating source from the otherwise abandoned granite quarries.
Outcome of the intervention: Based on the successful demonstration of KVK’s high density cage fin fish farming model in granite quarries, the Fish Farmers Development Agency (FFDA) under the State Government has launched a subsidy scheme to further popularize this technology. Under this scheme entitled Cage fish culture in abandoned water bodies the agency supported cage fish farming in granite quarries. Total 50 cage units, each comprising 2 cages received financial assistance (INR8000/- per cage unit) from the agency during 2015-16 year. KVK was the technology partner in this programme.