Wealth from waste

A farmer from Hitapur village in Ludhiana district of Punjab has evolved a system of resourcefully utilising all his farm waste

 
Last Updated: Sunday 07 June 2015

Wealth from waste

Prized catch: record fish prod A scientific revolution is brewing. Not in the laboratories of the nation but in a 40-hectare farm in Hiatpur village in Ludhiana district of Punjab. Darshan Singh Tabiba, a farmer with basic elementary education, is the proud owner of the farm. Twenty years ago the farmland lay barren. Today, it is a resounding example of an individual's endeavour to make diversified farm practises more productive. Even the scientists of the Punjab Agricultural University (pau), Ludhiana, appreciate Tabiba's efforts. Starting from growing traditional crops such as rice and wheat, he profitably manages dairy farming, piggery, poultry, honey bee culture, agroforestry and horticulture.

The farm is unique. It is a place where nothing goes waste, not even animal excreta. Waste from one activity is put to use in another, that too resourcefully. The poultry waste is used as pig feed. The pig excreta and dairy waste, on the other hand, are drained into a three-hectare pond as an addition to the fish feed. The pigsty is built near the pond's edge so that the urine, which has nitrogenous compounds such as ammonia, automatically flows into the pond. And the pond water is used for irrigation. "Thanks to the nitrogen enriched pond water, I use about 25 per cent less urea compared to other farmers harvesting the same yield," says a proud Tabiba.

Tabiba is not only utilising his own waste but also the waste of the sugarcane industry. He is using pressmud -- a byproduct of the sugarcane industry -- for feeding fish pigs and cattle. According to him, it can be a good addition to the animal feed as it is rich in protein and is available in abundance, and that too free of cost. Even pau scientists agree with him. "Punjab is losing Rs 10 lakh every day by throwing away pressmud," claims Tabiba.

Tabiba has been able to achieve a record freshwater fish production of over 13 tonnes per hectare every year. The national maximum freshwater fishing output is 5-6 tonnes per hectare every year, as indicated by the statistics of Bhubneshwar-based Central Institute of Freshwater Aquaculture (cifa). "I was able to achieve the record production due to composite fishing, whereby fish are bred in deep as well as shallow waters," says Tabiba. The institute has adopted his farm as its regional research centre and had also judged him as the best fish farmer for the year 1999 for his achievements in freshwater aquaculture. pau awarded him with the Sardar Dalip Singh Dhaliwal Memorial Award for being a innovative farmer. This award was followed by many others, including the Jagjiwan Ram Kisan Puruskar in 1999 given by the New Delhi-based Indian Council of Agricultural Research. "Tabiba is a very innovative farmer and has done commendable work in the field of recycling waste," says Sujit Singh Gill, additional director of the communication centre of PAU.

Tabiba has also developed a crop rotation system to cultivate two different varieties of mustard (Brassica campastris), in the dried up areas of his pond, under the technical guidance of cifa. He is also growing poplar tree (Populus deltoides), which is chiefly used by the pulp industry, on the land surrounding the pond.

To add to his list of achievements, he has developed a timer mechanism for his water pump, apart from reassembling a few of his mechanical farming equipment to make them cost-effective. His experiments with farm engineering started when he was unable to find a mechanic to repair one of his farm equipment. On a request made by pau, he is even modifying a Chinese rice transplanter, which is used for sowing rice saplings, to make it suitable for Indian conditions.

Though Tabiba attributes most his success to the support extended by the scientists of pau, there is no doubt that it is his own initiatives that are bearing fruits. "My innovations were basically aimed at making farm practises more cost-effective. I wish other farmers could also benefit from my research," says Tabiba.

Reported by R V Singh from Ludhiana

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