About 16 kilometres from the busy city of Gurugram in Mankrola lies Sehrawat Organic Farm. Spread across 30 acres, this integrated farm propagates the use of innovative and progressive techniques while combining them with traditional agriculture.
Satish Kumar Sehrawat and his three brothers took up their ancestral profession of farming twenty years ago. Their income has since increased four times.
Recently, the progressive farmer was bestowed with the Krishi Ratan Puruskar by Ram Nath Kovind for using the bamboo-staking technique. It has helped reduce input costs and increases productivity.
The Better India got in touch with the farmer to know more about the process that helped him avoid wastage in production.
“We were traditional farmers. Growing up, we saw our father toil in the soil to grow staples like wheat, rice, millet, and mustard. Over time, we realised that the profit margin was really low. So when we took over the farm, we wanted to use techniques that could minimise the cost of production and increase the final output.”
The first step was to adopt intercropping and integrated farming. He set up orchards for fruits like guavas and mangoes. Seasonally, he also started growing horticulture vegetables and spices like tomatoes, brinjals, chillies, bitter gourds, bottle gourds and several leafy greens.
To water the plants efficiently, they equipped the field with high-tech sprinklers and drip systems. Satish also set up a rainwater harvesting tank 25 x 85 feet and 25 feet deep with a storage capacity of 30 lakh litres.
“It suffices for agriculture year-round,” he adds.
He practices bee-keeping for pollination, which has helped boost production by 25 per cent. His farm is also equipped with a biogas plant. Apart from dairy farming, he produces and sells vermicompost.
Of all his techniques, it was bamboo staking that brought his work to the limelight.
Satish explains, “A majority of our horticulture crops includes tomatoes, brinjals, a variety of gourds. But until three years ago, we noticed that we were incurring nearly 30 per cent losses. While most of the crops rotted due to excess irrigation, others would be lost on the ground due to excess vegetation and ultimately be crushed under the foot of labourers during harvest season.”
To avoid this, he consulted the Krishi Vigyan Kendra and horticulture department. Around this time, the 38-year-old farmer decided to undertake ‘Machan Vidhi’, or bamboo-staking by setting up five-foot-long bamboo sticks in the field.
The process, which follows stacking vegetables on bamboo pillars, has now drastically reduced the loss of produce. 99 per cent of the produce is now healthy, he insists.
“It has also helped improve the quality of crops. For example, earlier when the gourds were left to grow on the ground, they often grew in a crooked fashion. In the same way, tomatoes would often get covered with excess vegetation and not get the required sunlight. As a result, they all grew in uneven colours. Now that we have adopted bamboo staking, the crops grow uniformly with the right amount of sunlight.”
He recommends the process to other farmers too. In the staking technique, he sometimes uses non-woven crop covers to cover the crop from moisture and pests.
He was bestowed the Krishi Ratna Award by President Ram Nath Kovind at Gannaur in February 2019, making him the only Haryana farmer to be awarded for his efforts in horticulture.
“The jury had visited our farm to observe and judge our techniques. But we were surprised when we received a call just a day before the awards were to take place. It was a moment of delight and pride for my family and me.”
Are the many innovations from his farm expensive to implement? Yes, but he vouches for their long-term benefits—reducing costs and multiplying output.
Today, 99 per cent of their produce is organically grown. “It is only under extreme pest attacks that we use herbicides,” he adds.
Much of the produce, like mangoes and guavas, is sold to retailers and wholesalers, while the rest is sold in local markets in Delhi and Gurugram. It also suffices for the family’s needs.
“Our focus is not the income, because the prices of crops keep fluctuating. But our techniques and commitment to quality have helped us earn good market prices and create a loyal customer base.”
With his farmer brothers, Satish has now leased more land in Rewari, Alwar, and Sonipat. Apart from improving their standard of living, Sehrawat Organic Farm also generates employment for 50 labourers.
In a final message to farmers, Satish emphasises the need for awareness saying, “Knowledge is power. There are several techniques that a farmer can use to boost production; all they have to do is seek that information. So if you are facing any issues or want to know more about any innovations, visit your nearest Krishi Vigyan Kendra and keep yourself updated about the latest trends. Crop prices cannot be controlled by farmers, but using the best practices is within your reach and under your control. If you are aware and knowledgeable, you won’t suffer losses.”
If this story inspired you, get in touch with Satish Kumar at 098124 74665 or visit his farm’s Facebook page here.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)