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As you reap, so shall you add value to farm produce

A fusion of traditional practices, management expertise and technology has taken agriculture to a higher level at a farm located in Udayampuli Village of Tirunelveli district. Jaycee Agro Farms has emerged as a model in which the farmer is in control of the food chain — from production to marketing.

The farm, spread over 200 acres (and an additional 250 acre of leased land), adopts a biodiversified cropping pattern (paddy, fruits and vegetables) and is home to about 51,000 trees, all belonging to native species. It has an interconnected drip irrigation network with six percolation ponds, six open wells and 28 borewells, in addition to rainwater harvesting infrastructure.

The water grid, which can be operated with an Android phone, ensures uninterrupted supply. The organic, bio and biodynamic manure and pesticides produced at the farm are tested in an in-house laboratory. The dairy unit provides the ingredients for manure production. Units are being set up to process fruits, vegetables; produce herbal powders and cold-pressed oils.

Lack of value addition

“Our objective is to prove that farming can be very profitable. Farmers suffer due to absence of processing and value addition facilities. They can give us their produce raised as per our specifications for value addition and we assure them a price much higher than the market price,” said K. Jayachandran, one of the two promoters. He picks out moringa, basil, lemon and amla as crops that fetch good prices in the export market with value addition in the form of amla juice, moringa powder, curry leaves powder and the like. The farm has achieved breakeven within a few years of operation.

It is networking with nearby villages to improve productivity and income of small and marginal farmers. The farm is also used to provide training in organic and biodynamic farming in association with government agencies and promote agro-tourism. Work has begun to make it a biodynamic farming education centre of the Biodynamic Association of India. “We want to make farming a cooperative movement that functions on good corporate principles,” said Mr. Jayachandran.

Biodynamic agriculture, a new method of farming, which evolved from the lectures of Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner in 1924, incorporates principles of oriental philosophy and astronomy.

Almost all of the produce leave the farm with value addition. About 70% of the harvest goes to the export market. It has received certificates from Demeter International, LACON Germany and Halal India. “At present, farmers suffer about 35% post-harvest loss. This can be considerably brought down by processing and value addition,” said R. Chandrasekaran, the other promoter.

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