Shambhu Nath Choudhry
RANCHI – A couple hailing from Jharkhand’s Hazaribag district, who left their corporate jobs and turned to farming, have become model farmers scripting an inspiring success story for others.
The couple- Vinod Kumar used to be a bank manager, while his wife Radhika worked in a multinational corporate company- in Pune.
Institutions like NABARD and IFFCO Kisan are impressed by their success. These organizations have selected them for the pilot project of Automated Irrigation System in Jharkhand. They have become the only farmers in the state, who can irrigate the crops grown in their fields even while sitting far away through the mobile app.
Bumper crops ranging from watermelon, cucumber, bitter gourd to nanua are being grown in their fields. Hundreds of tons of vegetables grown by them are reaching other states of the country as well as outside the country’s borders- Bangladesh.
In 2020, during the Covid period, when uncertainties prevailed over everyone’s mind and heart, about life and career, they were busy in multinational jobs, hundreds of kilometers away from their home, in Pune. It was not an easy decision for the couple to leave everything all of a sudden and return to the village.
While returning home, there was only one thing in their mind that there is a life in the village too. If we do something here, we may get more or less money, but the happiness and peace we will get in comparison to that will be the most valuable. Needless to say that in just two-and-a-half years, the couple have set an example for others.
Vinod’s village is in Harhad under Churchu block of Hazaribagh district. He decided to try his hand at farming with new techniques. He had not enough land in the village for farming. So, he took 18 acres of land on lease for 10 years in Darhwa and Kusumdih of Rabodh village, which was generally considered barren. This land used to remain fallow for seven-eight months in a year.
After some research and discussion with agricultural scientists, he started watermelon cultivation here. Adopting drip method for irrigation, in the very first year in 2021, he grew 150 tonnes of watermelon. In the second year in 2022, this production reached 210 tonnes and the total business reached about 10 lakh rupees.
Vinod says that along with this, cultivation of cucumber, bitter gourd, nanua, chilli and tomato was also started according to the season. Last year about 150 quintals of cucumber, 100 quintals of bitter gourd and 100 quintals of nanua were produced. To link crops to the market, he formed Farmers Producers Organization (FPO) with local farmers.
Vinod is the CEO of FPO- Dadi United Rural Producer Company Ltd. Through this, crops are being easily sold on the digital platform at a reasonable price. Buyers from other districts of West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and markets as far as Bangladesh are themselves reaching here and picking crops from the fields.
Impressed with their success, NABARD and IFFCO Kisan have selected the couple for the automated irrigation system pilot project. It is a mobile app based on sensor and digital technology, through which it is possible to irrigate crops even while sitting at a distance.
In this system, a tower is installed in the farm, which gives mobile command signal to the irrigation machines present in the farm. The information about the present moisture content in the soil is obtained from the plant installed in the field. Then accordingly, one can irrigate from anywhere through one’s mobile operated app. Information about all the parameters including moisture in crop leaves, ground temperature, wind speed and weather is available on this app.
Vinod is currently using this technique on five acres of land. He has divided his five acres of land into four parts and irrigates 1.25 acres at a time through the app. It is the first project of its kind in the state. After its success, other farmers of the state will also be able to use this technique.