Indian Farmers: New Breed

Perhaps my rural origin excites me with the good news of changing India, and so I try to share my feelings when I get some.

Today’s Crest that Times of India publishes on every Saturday has an inspiring story about how some hard core urbanites shifted to their roots and are happy with their endeavours in farming. They did not only find peace but also even prosperity, among the melons and the bees. Farming with a mission and perseverance can succeed.

Kailash Mehta started out with barely Rs 25,000. After many years when he scarcely raked in a penny, his application of logic (growing what agreed with the soil and climate), and method (drip irrigation, 90 per cent manure – 10 per cent NPK fertilizer; turning weeds and dry grass to compost; alternating between high and low extraction crops; eschewing ploughing for digging holes) earned him an income of Rs 5 lakh last year, of which he managed to save Rs 2 lakh.

Amrish Patel established VIGO Bio-Tech Dairy Pvt Limited, bringing out a brand of cow’s milk called Zeal, from an ultra-modern ‘tabela’ in Nurpura village – Asia’s largest 80-unit rotary milking parlour. 700 Holstein-Friesian hybrid cows are milked using Irish technology, and bathed the traditional Indian way, in ‘neem’ water. Late last year, the Ahmedabad-based Anil Group – a food and bio-industrial conglomerate – acquired a 90 per cent stake through a deal estimated at Rs 25 crore. Now Patel is about to make money out of honey.

Michael Aruldoss Ratnam: “I’ve gone back to farming methods 80 years old, when people grew what the land was amenable to and did not force an untenable crop on the soil. Back then they wanted to make food from the land, not money, as they do today.”

Ashok Kumar in his farm at Kottapalayam village, 60 km from Tiruchi, now raises watermelons on a 2.5-acre patch, and musk melons on a 1.5-acre area. He buys only hybrid seeds and uses technology like drip irrigation and sheet mulching for higher yield. “These sheets maintain moisture in the mud as well as warmth around the plant. At least, 80 farmers visit my farm every week to learn my techniques.” This year his third crop has been pre-booked by a Delhi-based trader. Ashok plans to buy an additional 20 acres and cultivate niche crops like sweet corn and cherry tomato.

There must be many more in India with similar success stories. I wish media cover them to inspire those who endeavoured to get into farming that many feels are fast becoming unviable.

I feel I didn’t have that fire so I sold all my rural landed properties in two of the remote but fertile villages of Bihar. Sometimes, I envy such people with fire, as a fire can only make one succeed.

I wish the story will provide inspiration to many more join the group of the few urbanites who have preferred a difficult rural life and change the fate of rural India. Unfortunately, the government didn’t consider Former President’s PURA concept that would, in all probability, have resulted in sustained changes in the rural India.

There are another lot of Indian farmers who have become affluent as byproducts of the expanding urbanization. The recent story by Jim Yardley on March 18, in New York Times about the India’s newly rich farmers is one.

I wish the Goddess Lakshmi would have smiled on those who could use it well.

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