ALUVA: Speaking at the Global Agro Meet 2014, producer Cicil Chandran says that Hi-tech farming is the future for agriculturists the world around.
And this is no ordinary producer.
Winner of the Hi-tech farmer award consecutively in 2012 and 2013, not counting a plethora of other recognitions, Cicil Chandran is the owner of DJM Hi-Tech farm at Neyattinkara in Thiruvananthapuram, adopting advance techniques using latest technology, where he nurtures different varieties of Cucumber, Capsicum, Papaya, Tomato and Bittergourd, just to name a few. When ‘Express’ contacted Cicil he said, “To venture into the Hi-tech agriculture field, proper training for the producer is imperative. Kerala is lagging behind in this regard. Hi-Tech farming yields more than 10 times the produce that is obtained by the conventional farming procedures,” he says. “Moreover, it ensures that the produce is pesticide-free and completely safe for consumption,” he adds. This is amply supported by the fact that he gained a staggering eight-and-a-half tonnes of produce within three months of farming in a 600-sqm field.
He nurtures an enviable Hi-Tech vegetable farm, high-breed, good quality vegetable seedlings, a banana plantation, heliconia, orchid anthurium, ornament plants, a goat farm, a coconut tree plantation, ginger and pepper plantations all under one roof. He also cultivates a particular variety of papaya, the Red Lady, which he says is a highly profitable cultivation that requires minimal care and attention. His DJM Hi-Tech farm is divided into a fully controlled and protected sector and a naturally ventilated area which is covered by insect-proof nets.
The polyhouse in DJM Hi-Tech is also one of the only two farms in the state which uses the smart farm module developed by Centre for Development and Advanced Computing (CDAC). “The smart farm module senses humidity, water and air circulation, soil and carbon dioxide. It takes all these factors into account and makes the necessary changes in settings, all the while dispatching an sms of the changes that it has registered. It is completely automated in every regard. However, only certain crops like tomato, cucumber and chilli, which are self-pollinating, are grown in the sector,” he says, adding that polyhouses are subsidised by 75 per cent. He uses UV stabiliser sheets from Israel to spread sunlight evenly to every crop.
He says that Kerala possesses a huge potential for growth in the Hi-Tech cultivation sector, but is stunted by a lack of training for producers. “Several high quality seeds and fertilisers which are used here are currently imported from Netherlands. If we could provide proper manufacturing facilities of those products in the state, we would be able to cut down extra costs to a considerable extent,” he says.