Multilayer farming helps this Madhya Pradesh farmer grow a combination of vegetables round the year
Akash Chaurasia is a marginal farmer from Sagar town in Bundelkhandregion in Madhya Pradesh, that is known for dry spells of rainfall. He has got a landholding of 2.5 acres (1 hectare). With low cost and innovative farming techniques, Akash earns nearly Rs 15 lakh from his farm through multilayer cropping and other allied agricultural practices like producing manure (vermicompost), bio pesticide and milk.
While Akash lives on his farm, his family resides in the outskirts of the town in Madhya Pradesh. The 29-year-old believes in complete organic and climate-smart agriculture. He has experimented with and innovated few cost-effective farming methods which help him keep the investment low.
Multi-layer farming is mainly cash crop-based and it includes a combination of vegetables and fruits that can be grown together. The crops are grown at different heights on the same land. This farming cannot be done in open fields as a shade is needed.
Akash does not use expensive playhouse, rather he uses locally available materials like bamboo and wild grass to create a shade. This shade not only protects the vegetables from adverse weather but also helps in holding one of the vine crops in the mix. The four crops are of ginger, which is sown underground, Amaranthus, which is grown just above the ginger bed, scarlet gourd vines, which is grown on the bamboo poles, and papaya trees, that are planted at a certain distance in the farm.
The farm is set up during February-March. The harvesting of Amaranthus starts within 2-3 weeks and lasts till May-June. Harvesting of scarlet gourd starts in April and lasts till October-November. Then, in August ginger is ready for harvest and papaya is harvested in November. Once the income starts, it lasts round the year till next January.
Akash uses only indigenous seeds, so that he can cut the cost of buying expensive seeds every year. Other than saving cost, indigenous seeds are climate-resilient and less prone to pest attacks, which is very important for a vegetable crop.
Moreover, this method is water efficient as vegetables do not require heavy irrigation. Plus, since there are four crops at one single piece of land they require less water. All these features make it a sustainable model of farming.
When the country is reeling under an agrarian crisis and 80 per cent of farmers owns a landholding of less than 5 acres (2 hectares), this cost-effective method of multilayer farming can be a way to go for marginal farmers in the county.
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