Mr. Muhammed Busthani, hailing from Koduvally in Kozhikode district of Kerala was planning to venture into a business on return to his home town after leaving a private job in New Delhi, but he was totally clueless on what to start.
It was a meeting with Dr. S. Hamza, Technical Officer at Indian Institute of Spices Research, Kozhikode and an old acquaintee, which helped him to realize that agriculture is his next calling.
During February 2011, he, along with his five friends, attended a three day seminar and technology showcasing conducted at the Institute under the aegis of National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP) of ICAR.
That was a turning point in the life of Mr. Busthani and friends. “After attending various sessions in the seminar and hearing the success stories of farmer participants, we decided to have a go in turmeric cultivation, a crop which is least affected by pest and diseases,” says Mr. Busthani.
Initially, they booked one ton seed rhizomes of Prathibha turmeric from Mr. Abdul Nabeel, a farmer delegate in the seminar. The friends formed a trust and took one acre land on lease at Sultan Bathery, Wayanad, and thus Bucca Farms was born! From that one acre plot the team harvested around 17 tonnes of fresh turmeric during January 2012.
“We dried about 100 kg of Prathibha turmeric and powdered it for domestic use. After that, the home made dishes were all in a different taste! When my wife pointed out the superiority of turmeric powder, I thought of cultivating it on commercial scale,” he recalls.
He took the appreciation seriously and explored the opinions of the neighboring housewives-a sort of survey study! All the neighbors who used Prathibha turmeric for home cooking endorsed the ‘magic’ of Prathibha turmeric powder!
This year, the friends leased out around 18 acres of land at Pazhayangadi near Vellamunda in Wayanad district of Kerala and the entire area was planted with Prathibha with the remaining seed rhizomes!
Today, Bucca Farms may be the largest farm growing a single variety of turmeric in Kerala. The farmers adopt the production packages recommended by IISR. The operations including the fertilizer applications are targeted to get a yield of 320 tonnes. IISR scientists Dr. V Srinivasan, Dr. R Dinesh and Dr. S Hamza have developed specific fertilizer recommendations to obtain a fixed yield from a unit area of land, known as ‘targeted yield’. As the crop is showing good health and uniform growth, the farmers are expecting a yield somewhere near the targeted levels.
Maturing in 225 days under rainfed conditions, Prathibha gives an average yield of 39.12 tonnes per hectare with a dry recovery of 18.9 per cent. Relatively higher levels of curcumin (6.25%), oleoresin (16.2%) and essential oil (6.2%) make Prathibha a hottest choice for industrial, medicinal and culinary purposes. Prathibha is proven to give 6 to 7% of curcumin under Kerala conditions. This high curcumin variety of turmeric was developed by Dr. B Sasikumar, Principal Scientist of IISR and it is in the field for more than a decade.
To overcome labor shortage and high labor charge, Mr. Busthani adopted machine station. “Though the topography of the area was undulating; we could make uniform beds for planting turmeric in the entire 18 acres land using the bed maker. It helped us to save about 300 laborers work,” he adds.
Mr. Busthani is also contemplating to go for available modern techniques in other farm operations so as to bring down the cost of production. “We are working on a tractor mountable device to harvest the crop in the coming season,” he adds.
Regarding the future course of action, Mr. Busthani has well thought out plans. He strongly feels that Prathibha turmeric powder should be marketed in the household as a unique branded product, owing to its better culinary properties.
Mr. Busthani was also one of the farmers identified for scientific cultivation of ginger (Varada) under the institutes’ NAIP project on Multi-enterprise farming models to address the agrarian crisis of Wayanad, Kerala in 2011. His ginger crop at Puthankunnu, Sultan Bathery, Wayanad, performed exceptionally well and set the tone for his success in turmeric.
(Source: IISR, Kozhikode)