Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Starting A Farm | Beginning Farmers

Before starting a farm the farmers should do the following, there are some of the important parameters to consider for identifying or narrowing down to the right crop. It does not mean these factors alone will be be sufficient but can give you a head start in finalizing the crop.

Please note that the mention of crops includes everything (Plants, Animals etc).

The basic parameters are:-

  1. Land Bank
  2. Soil Type
  3. Water Availability
  4. Gestation Period
  5. Net Profit
Land Bank means the available land on hand.  This is a very important parameter as this will decide the scale of operations.

Soil Type - It will help to decide the Crops that can be grown in that land.

Water Availability - Helps you to identify the Crops based on the water resources available.

Gestation Period - How much time you will have to wait before you can start your harvest?

Net Profit - When there are multiple choices available considering the first four parameters, this will be the deciding factor.

You may be surprised to note that I have not mentioned Money as an important factor.  I feel that Money is NOT  the deciding factor but it is necessary to an extent.


I am presenting few ideas here and I hope this will kindle your imagination further.

Do you know that even without owning any Land Bank you can do agriculture related activity?

1. You can do Honey Bee farming from your house (Urban as well as Rural).

2. You can do Fish Farming in your Village Tank, Pond etc (after getting the permissions and paying the necessary fees)

Is there any activity that can be done in small land holding (less than 2400 sq ft)?

1. You can go for Mushroom Farming

2. You can go for Rabbit Farming

3. You can go for Pigeon Farming

4. You can go for Sericulture Farming

Choosing the Right Variety Crop

Once we have decided on the Crop, the next step will be to decide on a variety in that particular crop.

The following are some of the factors to decide on the variety:-

  1. End Usage
  2. Diversity in Varieties
  3. Time Diversity

End Usage - The meaning of End Usage is different for different crops.  I am giving an example of 2 crops here.

Coconut Tree
  • Coconuts are directly consumed which we call as Tender Coconut
  • Coconuts are used in Cooking for Chutney Paste etc
  • Coconuts are used as Oil for Cooking as well as for Hair

Mango Tree
  • Mangoes are used in Cooking
  • Mangoes can be directly consumed (Table Top)
  • Mangoes are made as Juice (Pulp) and sold by big companies

So, the ideas is to decide which segment are we focusing.  Do we want to focus on a single segment or do we want to focus on multiple segments?

Diversity in Varieties - The fact of the matter is different people like different mangoes based on their taste buds.  I may like Malgoa from Salem, others may like Alphonso (export market potential) etc.  Keeping in view this factor, it will be necessary for a cultivator to go for multiple varieties in the same crop.  This also will ensure there no particular variety is over produced and hence no wastage.

Time Diversity - Please note the word Diversity here.  I will be referring to this many more times in different contexts.

Again, I want to give examples here so that it is easy for a layman to understand what I mean.

Lets take the case of Mangoes as an example.  While choosing Mangoes, we have already seen whether it will be used mainly as Table Top or Pulp.  Assuming we have considered this factor already, the next question to address is, should our production be available at a single point of time or made available in different times?

There are Mango varieties that bear fruits during early, mid season & late seasons.  If our entire Mango crop comes to production during the same season, there will be over production and there are possibilities of wastage's as well as profit hit.  If we plan our production in different seasons, the production will be balanced and we can market the produce in a timely manner.

Mono-culture v/s Poly-culture

Mono culture - A single species of plants (I am using the word plants generically and it will also refer to animals as well)

  1. A classical example is Paddy cultivation
  2. Another example is Coconut Groove
  3. One more example is Mango Orchard
In Mono-culture, there are some advantages as well as disadvantages.  But mostly, the disadvantages overweight the advantages.

  1. Any person involved in Mono-culture will have to gain knowledge only for that particular plants
  2. Marketing will be easy
  1. May result in complete crop failure due to homogeneous plants and hence pests may have a field day
  2. Results in over production (Over Production can be from your own field or because of similar farms)
  3. Results in profit hit (Those who are in the know how will know how much is the cost per coconut)

Poly-culture - At least more than One species of plants

  1. An example would be Coconut Groove with Cocoa Plants
  2. Paddy Cultivation with fish integration
  3. Paddy cultivation + Vegetables on the bunds + Fish Integration + Duck Farming
In Poly-culture, normally the advantages overweight the disadvantages and hence poly-culture is recommended.


  1. Risk spread is there (Even if one crop is failing, the other crops will sustain you)
  2. Market risk is minimized (Since you are having multiple crops, even if there is crash in the profit of one crop, the other crops will average it out)
  3. Diseases can be managed as the pests will not be able to attack every single plants. (While this is true, we need to consider different families of plants rather than the same family of plants)
  1. You may have to gain knowledge on multiple plants
  2. Marketing will be a little bit difficult but you can use it to your advantage
My definition of Poly-culture is one which does not have the same family of plants next to each other.  While this is very difficult to achieve, we can try our best and compromise very little.

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