This article has been sponsored by Bayer.
Almost 30 years ago when Rajesh Singh, an electronics engineer got a job in Noida, his family and relatives were elated. For the past three generations, members of this family had primarily embraced farming as their sole livelihood and Rajesh was out to do something different. Or so they thought.
But a few months into the job, Rajesh realised his calling lay elsewhere, closer to his roots. The idea that farming is a backward occupation was not something he was ready to accept. At a time when mainstream agriculture and technology were yet to be acquainted, he began to look for ways to approach farming from a scientific perspective. For him, doing something different was not by getting a job in the city but by changing the outlook towards agriculture.
Quitting his job after six months of joining, he moved back to his native village, Sharifpur, Handia tehsil, near Prayagraj (Allahabad), UP. Back home he started with banana cultivation which was beneficial at first, but with time, lack of resources and access to knowledge began to curb his progress.
“I live in a large joint family and was the only one who decided to continue the family legacy of agriculture. While I was employing different techniques and ways to my cultivation practices, I needed more guidance. On the other hand, there were mounting responsibilities of my family as well. I had three kids who deserved the best opportunities but there were limitations to what I could afford to provide them. I wanted to overcome all of it whilst staying true to my original goal of embracing technology and science-backed farming techniques,” shares the 52-year-old.
Help finally arrived in a few years when a multinational life sciences company, Bayer decided to open the Bayer Learning Center (BLC) nearby. To provide growers with the much-needed guidance, training and support in sustainable agricultural practices and embracing several innovative products, BLC has impacted thousands of farmers.
Bayer Learning Center
BLC’s primary goal is to meet farmer expectations and provide the right product and crop solutions that empower the growers in every way. Through its digitally enabled support, farmers are not only able to access the information physically but remotely as well.
Delivering consistent and high-quality information, the centre strives to showcase different crop system interventions, basics of agronomy, product performance, etc. to all the stakeholders, which include farmers as well as traders.
BLC, which is established across rural parts of India, strives to enhance product and crop knowledge of all the stakeholders in the agricultural sector and develop their capabilities through knowledge transfer.
“The idea is to provide the right solution at the right time. One example of this is our work in Odisha with a pest called brown planthopper. In the last few years, it has proved to be a menace damaging a lot of rice that was about to be harvested. Farmers do not have the required knowledge about new solutions or resources to tackle situations like this and we bridge that gap by guiding them to do so, through our physical as well as virtual information-sharing platform,” says Srinivasa Karavadi, Head of Market Development for India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Be it educating about hybrid seeds, training to employ new practices in crop cultivation or providing sustainable ways of tackling pests, BLC has helped Rajesh and hundreds of farmers in the region to increase both their yield and income. Currently with more than 65 centres across India, Bayer has transformed the lives of over 50,000 farmers across geographies.
Talking about the impact generated by BLC’s guidance, Rajesh shares, “The techniques taught at the centre have helped us increase our crop yield by manifolds, in a lesser budget. Thanks to them, my rice yield with Bayer’s tailored solution has increased by 20-25 per cent and now I earn almost 10 times more than before.”
Today, Rajesh’s elder son is a mechanical engineer, while his younger son is pursuing MSc in agricultural engineering and his daughter MSc in Botany. The fact that all three of them can pursue higher education is a dream come true for him, one that was made possible through the increase in income aided by Bayer’s guidance.
“I am forever grateful to Bayer for helping me realise my dream of doing agriculture differently. My children and the entire family, as well as the families of countless farmers now have a different outlook towards agriculture thanks to them,” he concludes.