Farm entrepreneurship is the way forward for Indian farmers, discusses Awanish Somkuwar
Farming for basic sustenance is all right but farm entrepreneurship will really make a big change in the agrarian economy of Madhya Pradesh, says Santosh Yadav, a progressive farmer from Khargone district, who received Krishi Karman Award from Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Tumkur, Karnataka recently. He received the award for wheat production during 2016-17.The wheat output from his field was assessed at 44 quintals per acre. He owns 10 acres, divided between four family members including himself in Dhaamnod, Kasrawad block, Khargone. His eldest son Yogesh studies in class 10th while daughter Tanushree is in the 8th standard. "I have one tube well and one conventional well. Enough for the size of my field. Besides, three buffalos, two bulls and a cow are of great help. The bulls are still useful," he adds.
Sharing his views about the various dimensions of farming, Santosh Yadav informs that the labour skilled in farming is thinning out. "I have to perform many labour-intensive farm activities", he says. "My soil health had deteriorated but timely testing was a great help. Deficiencies of potash and zinc have been removed. I have made it a practice not to use pesticides. Though not easy but gradually zero-level can be achieved", he says. Appreciating the Jai Kisan Crop Loan Waiver Scheme, he observes that all debt-ridden farmers in Kasravad now feel relieved. Their crop loans up to Rs 2 lakh have been waived off. On this matter, he says, "Last year I cultivated bitter gourd on less than one acre and earned Rs 1.10 lakh at the rate of Rs 20 to 30 per kilogramme", Yadav adds.
Another farmer, Shivlata Mehato, owns 4.5 acres out of a total of ten acres owned by her family. The rest is owned by her husband and two sons. The eldest son, Rishabh Mehato is pursuing MSc in Agriculture at RKDF College, Bhopal, while the younger son Arjun Mehato is doing computer science from Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Government Polytechnic, Bhopal. She informed that Rishabh is deeply interested in farm machinery and can repair tractor engines. "Though they are free to pursue careers based on their own interests, we don't mind the possibility that they join us," Shivlata says.
She continues, "I got the award for production of gram during 2017-18. The yield was assessed at around 18 quintals per acre. The market rate of Rs 4000 per quintal was a big relief. The biggest advantage is that my field is in Pathrota village, just 5 kilometres from Itarsi tehsil headquarters. It is a Gram Panchayat having a population about 3,000."
Similarly, Kanchan Verma, who owns a sizeable land measuring 70 acres but divided into two families in Somalwada village in Itarsi, Hoshangabad, was awarded for record production of wheat in 2016- 17. The wheat output was assessed at 44 quintals per acre.
Verma has a piece of advice for other farmers regarding the examination of soil. Soil testing is fruitful before every season and avoidance of monoculture practice is advisable. "I got my soil tested and zinc deficiency was reported. So I got it treated accordingly before the start of sowing. The last year, we harvested beans on a larger area and brought them to the market at least one month before the season. Thus, we got a handsome price of Rs 70 to 80 per kg", she informs.
Sharing tips of profitable farming, Kanchan Verma says that farming requires alertness so that advance planning may be done. The simple thing to keep in mind is that always be in or around the field as you can't do well staying away from the fields. Her family owns four tractors for different activities, besides five cows and two pairs of bulls.
Asked about the challenges, Kanchan informs that adverse weather conditions are the biggest threat. The challenge is time-management failing which results in a huge loss. She praises Chief Minister Kamal Nath's vision of transforming the farming community into entrepreneurship based community, saying that this is the only alternative to enhance the income base.
Awanish Somkuwar is Deputy Director – PR, CM Press Cell, Madhya Pradesh. Views expressed are strictly personal