“You often come across parents who proudly say that my son is an engineer, a doctor, a professor, a civil servant. But there are only a few who would proudly exclaim, ‘My son is a farmer. And I am proud of him.’ My parents do that for me every single day,” beams 25-year-old organic farmer Amogh S Jagthap.
As a child, Amogh recalls how his weekends were spent happily at a farmhouse his father bought in 2004. About 100 km from the chaos of the city, in Mandya district, this farmhouse is tucked away on a 20-acre plot.
“This was where my love for nature and farming first took root,” says Amogh, in an exclusive interview with The Better India.
While he moved on to pursue a Masters degree in Business Administration (MBA) from Jain University in Bengaluru, when the time came for Amogh to decide his career path, he chose to till the soil over chasing lucrative annual packages in the corporate world.
The youngster turned to organic farming in 2016 and grows a range of grains, pulses, fruits, and vegetables, without any chemicals. He also undertakes wood cultivation.
Deducting labour and production expenses, the farmer makes an annual turnover of Rs 7-10 lakh!
Some of the fruits he grows are banana, papaya, mango, chiku, jackfruit, star fruit (carambola), Malaysian apple, anjeer (fig) and guava. He also grows grains like rice, ragi, chana dal (horse gram), and green grams; crops like sugarcane, American corn and tender coconut. For cultivation of wood, he grows red sandalwood, sandalwood, teak, silver and oak!
Besides, he also rears livestock and practices dairy farming, poultry, and animal husbandry to supplement his income.
When asked for tips on the natural farming technique, he says that the most beneficial methods are “multi-cropping and integrated farming”.
What are these methods?
Multicropping is the practice of growing two or more crops on the same piece of land during a single growing season. This helps lower risks when a certain crop fails.
Integrated farming, on the other hand, is to ensure that growing crops is not the farmer’s only source of income. He can supplement his income using additional methods like rearing livestock and selling processed products from the farm.
For instance, apart from milk, the farmer can also sell butter, cheese, buttermilk, and cow dung cakes.
Integrated farming is the method of combining a few technologies within a traditional farming setup.
Maintaining the farm
The 20-acre farm in Mallavali that has over 800 tender coconut trees, 1,000 teak trees, 1,000 red sandalwood, 1,000 sandalwood, 20 silver trees, in addition to fruits, grains, and mixed vegetables–is maintained in a water-efficient way through the use of drip irrigation.
Even the fertiliser is administered to the crops using drip pipes.
This fertiliser that facilitates their growth is 100 per cent natural and made from a mixture of cow dung, sugarcane extracts, jaggery, and peanut powder. Mixed with water, it is fed to the crops through drip pipes.
The farm has ten permanent labourers. Amogh also hires temporary external labour during the harvest season.
What is the selling model that Amogh follows?
One of the prime reasons why Amogh makes the high turnover is due to his model of eliminating middlemen and selling his produce directly to the customers.
He has set up a shop under the brand name, Green Valley, alongside the Malavalli-Mysuru main road, where apart from fruits, vegetables, and tender coconut, he also sells honey, cow and buffalo milk, and butter.
He sets up daily farmer markets on the main road which are open to other organic farmers too. They are allowed to join and set up their own stalls to sell their produce as well.
Therefore, apart from gaining profits from his own produce, the youngster is also helping other organic farmers get the right prices for the crops without interference from any middlemen.
As our conversation ends, Amogh emphasises the need to promote organic farming.
“Misconceptions about organic farming exist due to lack of knowledge on the technique. People think organic farming is difficult to undertake and takes time to show results. And this is one of the reasons why chemical-based farming is being practised on such a large scale. But chemical fertilisers and pesticides are only short-term solutions that have deadly long term consequences where a chemical fertiliser may cost Rs 2,500, but locally-available cow dung is completely free of cost. So why not use that?” he shares.
He signs off, saying, “In the last two years, I haven’t incurred any losses. I want to continue to develop this model and prove that agriculture can be a successful business if you do it in a sustained and well-planned manner.”
If this story inspired you, get in touch with Amogh on +91 72590 50207
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)