How An ‘Ordinary’ Farmer Reaped Extraordinary Returns Through Tree-Based Farming
Can a mango farm earn more than what it earns from its mangoes and trees at no real cost? Can a hands-on farmer have twice his income without spending any extra time or money on his land or crop? Read this story to see how Lakshmipathy earns double his revenue from the mango crop through interplanting on the same 20 acres of land.
“What you sow, so shall you reap” - the meaning of this adage has been given new dimensions by Lakshmipathy at his 20-acre stretch of land in Sentivakkam in Madurantam taluk of Chengalpattu district.
He transformed a simple mango orchard into a forest stretch that is now worth three times the value of the fruit orchard. It has been three decades since he decided to take to interplanting and tree-based agriculture. But he is now reaping rich dividends of his simple effort back then that he says hardly cost him anything.
..."I planted about 3,000 additional saplings on another 7 acres of land with the help of Cauvery Calling. There are many types of trees like sandalwood, rosewood, teak, mahogany, African mahogany, Malabar kino and spear."
Sitting in his Chennai home, he recounts his journey of tree-based agriculture and of transforming his mango farm into a treasure trove.
“There was a lot of empty land between the mango trees. So I came up with an idea to plant teak trees in between the mango and that one idea, one small effort then is what I am now reaping great results from today,” says Lakshmipathy, who had first planted mangoes on 8 acres of land with an interval of 25 feet between the trees.
“…and at almost no cost. Since their planting, there has been no cost for the trees at all,” he adds.
Since then, there has been no looking back as he planted about 50 trees per acre which are worth over Rs. 60 lakh today.
“Watering for mango trees is sufficient for teak as well. Millions of rupees can be made today from teak wood at no cost. It makes me happy," he says.
"Mango trees started to bear fruits 5 - 6 years after planting. It took about 10 years for the trees to yield more fruit. Since then, I have been leasing 8 acres of mangroves. In the first few years, the income gradually increased from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 1,00,000. This year, it will give me Rs. 2,50,000. Even if you look at the average of Rs. 1,50,000, it has given me approximately Rs. 30,00,000 over the last 20 years,” he explains.
And caring for them too, despite living away from the farm, in Chennai, has been no task for Lakshmipathy. “I continued to farm but, over time, I could not work that hard anymore. But the trees require minimal maintenance and no work from me because I have someone to take care of my farm. I come and visit the farm only when I have the time."
"While these trees were growing, I planted about 3,000 additional saplings on another 7 acres of land with the help of Cauvery Calling. There are many types of trees like sandalwood, rosewood, teak, mahogany, African mahogany, Malabar kino and spear."
"The environment required for the trees to grow well is now very suitable. The changes caused by the trees are immense. The leaves of the teak trees fall down and increase the fertility of the soil and create a rich microcosm."
As for the returns from this investment of simple saplings that have turned into a forest today, the numbers are astonishing. While the total earnings of mango trees is said to be around Rs. 30 lakh, that of the interplanted teak crop is twice as much.
The 8-acre stretch holds 400 trees with 50 trees per acre, each valued at Rs. 15,000 today. So the value of interplanted teak trees is Rs. 7.5 lakh per acre while the total earning from mangoes is around Rs 1 lakh to Rs. 2.5 lakh per 8 acres, which makes it around Rs. 12,500 - 31,250 per acre. “While the total revenue from the mango orchard is Rs. 30 lakh, the teak wood is worth Rs. 60 lakh,” he explains.