Sunday, September 12, 2010

How Did We Do: Labland Biotechs Perspective and Our Analysis

Dear readers,

As Apoorva wrote, we were excited about the 80 Kg(176.37 lb) seeds that the farmers collected in Thippalapura. However, when we met our Advisory Board members, Dr. Sudheer Shetty and Dr. Geetaa Singh of Labland Biotechs, they were kind of disappointed. According to their expert opinion, it should have been three times the amount that we got. They expected roughly around 525 lb.

Well, when I thought about this, I knew the reason for this difference. When we visited the villages this time, we saw lots of seeds that were on the plant or on the ground. The farmers have not collected all the seeds. The reason for this is, the conflict of time. The harvest time of tobacco and Jatropha overlaps. If we think about it, we know that their first preference is tobacco, that is their main cash crop. That leaves the seeds on their Jatropha plant unharvested. This is a problem that we anticipated, but not to this degree.

Some of the farmers who were adventurous enough to plant Jatropha on their regular land patch told us how much money they lost because of lack of that patch of land for tobacco cultivation. This is true. Jatropha will not reach its full potential for the first two years and if the farmers replace tobacco with Jatropha, they will lose their income for the first two years. This is the reason we are not asking the farmers to replace the only cash crop. We want this to be a slow transition. We want to give this as an option. It will be up to the farmers to decide after two years.

A Stove Run by Jatropha Oil at Labland Biotechs

However, we need to come up with a way to see to it that the farmers collect the seeds that their Jatropha plants' yield. If both plants are to be harvested at the same time, how can we do this? One of the ways we are thinking is encouraging the other family members like kids to get involved. This is where our Global Call to Youth comes in. As we have involved several rural schools in environmental education and tree planting, an idea hit upon us to see if we can ask them to get involved. This is our plan A for the moment. If any of you have other ideas, we are interested in hearing them. Right now, we're definitely open to suggestions.

Some pictures from the global call to youth!



  1. Hey Adarsha,
    Very honest and thorough analysis. I thought Jatropha cultivators use mechanical harvesting?? Am I wrong? Manual is hard I feel. How about Tobacco? How do farmers harvest Tobacco in Hunsur?
    One more thought. How do farmers perceive Pongamia? Do they like it better than Jatropha? How long does it take to yield? Does Labland cultivate Pongamia?

  2. Hello Guys,
    I am so sorry for not being able to respond to your recent blog posts. I am sure you are mad at me for that. Right now I am busy with the college apps and once I am done, i will be responding to your blog. It is awesome!

  3. Dear Mr Subbanna :

    We love your thought provoking questions .
    There are no mechanical machines that are available in India to harvest either jatropha or tobacco.

    Tobacco growers with small holdings harvest the leaves themselves. Those farmers with large acreage, usually hire help - some all the way from Andhra Pradesh state .

    I have seen some videos on You tube about Jatropha harvesters: here is the link

    Jatropha harvesting may be economical on large scale but in Indian small farmers context it may be impractical .
    Farmers are quite enthusiastic about Pongamia as it provides shade and leaves that are eaten by goats.
    Labland,as for as know,does not have Pongamia.