Natives of Mylambadi village of Meenangadi panchayat in Wayanad, Binu Thomas, and Benny Thomas are childhood friends. While both of their families have been traditionally engaged in farming, the duo did not follow in their footsteps and pursued different professions.
Where Binu worked in the jewellery sector, Benny had his own taxi service in the town. But the young men were not happy with their jobs owing to an upsettingly skewed work-life balance.
“I could never find any quality time to spend with my family. Despite working for over 12 hours, even getting leaves sanctioned seemed nearly impossible. Life had become jaded for me, and I began contemplating about returning to my roots,” says Binu to The Better India (TBI).
After quitting his job, he came back to Meenangadi, only to find his friend Benny feeling facing the same issues of work-life imbalance.
“When I discussed giving farming a try, he was immediately on board. Our parents have always been an inspiration and farming was in our blood. It just took us some time to realise it,” laughs Binu.
In their early thirties, the duo wanted to cultivate something that their parents had never tried, and they wanted to do it on a large scale to get good returns. “We zeroed down on long beans, as it is one of the widely consumed vegetables across the state. But the greater motivator had been to try something different,” Binu adds.
To realise their dream, they began looking for a plot to lease and shortly stumbled upon a 2.5 acre-patch near their residences. However, as the plot had been unused for a while, they had to spend some time to make the land cultivable again.
“We took guidance from our family as well as friends to fix the land. We then measured the pH by testing the soil and added nutrients like calcium to reach the necessary value to kickstart farming. Once that became better, we began with the cultivation sometime towards November end,” Binu explains.
Interestingly, the life cycle of long beans plants does not exceed more than 120 days. On February 11 Binu and Benny harvested their first yield which was about 300 kg.
“It wasn’t near the amount that we’d hoped to harvest, but it was indeed a start. Things began to change gradually and shortly, and we were able to harvest about 1000 kg every alternate day. Despite small setbacks, we never lost hope and kept motivating ourselves. Perhaps that was how we were able to reach our self-set targets,” he shares.
The duo attribute Assistant Agricultural Officer, T V Sajeesh from Meenangadi Krishi Bhavan for their successful foray into farming.
“During our initial days, we had approached him to guide us, and he happily agreed. From inspecting our farm to giving us tips on how to fix the required nutrients in the soil, his support, quite literally, boosted not just our harvests, but also our spirits. Sometimes, he would look at the leaf of a plant and tell us what nutrients should be added to make them healthy,” Binu says.
Initially, the duo sold their produce in the market at Rs 25 per kg themselves, but now wholesale dealers from Meenangadi, and even from Sulthan Bathery come to collect the vegetable in bulk.
Binu shares that the markets in Bengaluru and Mysuru decide the market price of long beans in their area which keeps fluctuating.
“After the first two weeks, we began selling our harvest at Rs 40 per kg after a multifold increase in the yield. Plus, we started having dealers reach out to us to buy the beans straight from the farm. The rates often change. As the current cycle of harvest is slowly approaching its end, we are now selling the beans at Rs 38 per kg,” he adds.
The handsome returns are keeping the duo motivated. It did not take the local media long to cover their success story. “The media coverage further boosted our morale because soon enough, we received orders for export from Qatar, and that too, for thrice the quantity that we’ve harvested till now!” Binu shares excitedly.
Compared to their previous professions, Binu says they feel happier and do not regret the choice they made.
Life is a little less stressful with both friends getting enough time to spend with their families while earning better than they did before.
“I wouldn’t say that such decisions aren’t risky. But one needs to believe in their choices, no matter how unpredictable the future might seem. The commitment has to be long-standing; you can’t leave it halfway if things don’t work out midway. We were very focused right from the beginning. Benny had a near militant meticulousness about the entire process. Some days if I would suggest postponing to manure the field by only a day, he would adamantly make sure to add the manure at the right time. The timely nurturing plays a crucial role and novice farmers must keep that in mind,” he concludes.
Though Binu and Benny are focusing solely on long beans farming for now, they hope to diversify in the future. We wish the enterprising young farmers good luck with their newfound love in agriculture and hope that they find success with every sowing period.
If the duo’s story inspired you, or you wish to seek any tips or guidance on long beans farming, you can reach out to Binu at 9947544404.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)