Philip Chacko from Alappuzha, Kerala, always pictured himself as a commercial farmer. Even while studying for his MBA and working in the corporate field for two years, he was preparing himself for farming.
Philip’s ancestors were into farming and his parents owned a small piece of land as well as cattle. But when he showed interest in getting into agriculture, they weren’t supportive. “Everyone imagined me working comfortably in a corporate office with a good salary. But I went forward with my passion, despite their rejection,” says the 33-year-old.
To make himself ready for the field, Philip quit his well-paying job and worked for a plantation in Kottayam for three years. He learned more about farming from here. Finally, in 2019, he leased around 30 acres of land in Alappuzha to start vegetable farming.
Today, the young farmer conducts farming on 34 acres of land spread across different parts of Palakkad including Lakkidi and Malampuzha. To grow more seasonal veggies he has spread his venture to Ooty as well.
“From the very beginning, my idea was large-scale farming, otherwise known as a vegetable estate. I wanted to create a brand and sell the produce under it. That’s how ‘Pure Harvest’ came into being. All vegetables, from gourds to tubers and even seasonal vegetables are grown in the fields and sold via wholesalers and retailers across the state,” he explains.
Farmers from each locality work with him in collaboration to grow the crops and he gives them Re 1 higher than the market price. “The equipment and machinery needed for farmers are provided by me. Mostly, farmers come to me voluntarily as the price is better here,” he says.
Within five months of starting the agribusiness, Philip received a harvest of 56 tonnes. Today, the number has increased to 390 tonnes. “Last year, I earned a profit of Rs 36 lakh from farming alone,” he gushes.
Back in 2021, then agriculture minister of Kerala V S Sunil Kumar visited Philip’s farm too.
Unlike other commercial farmers who prefer to sell their produce to supermarket chains to spread their brand name, Philip takes his crops to small shops and markets. “I want everyone to value the quality of my vegetables. In the case of supermarkets, all they look for is plump and colourful vegetables. Quality is never their concern. For this reason, the price they provide is also less,” shares the agripreneur.
Okra, long beans, pumpkin, bitter gourd, ridge gourd, cucumber, spinach, cucumber, green gram, sesame, black gram, onion, potato and shallot are some of the crops on his farm. Certain fruits like papaya, musk melon and watermelon are also seen on the farms.
And all of them are grown organically.
Today, Philip has the support of his whole family. His parents K J Philip and Theklamma and his wife Anmary Antony, he says, are his biggest motivation.
Other than farming, Philip also provides consultation to farmers to start commercial farming. “There are several misconceptions about fertilising, sowing and every other process in agriculture. I try to support other farmers to scale up their harvests and reach more sellers,” he says.
The passionate agripreneur hopes to make his brand of quality vegetables and fruits available all over Kerala under the brand within a few years. “Everyone has a concept that agriculture is meant for the uneducated. This should change and more youngsters should get into farming. If done correctly, it is one of the most profitable businesses. As an MBA, I have incorporated several business techniques in farming too,” he says.
He adds, “My biggest dream is to spread my farming activities to 100 acres. I am also trying to collaborate with a delivery company to distribute the produce directly to customers without middlemen. This could bring down the price of vegetables a lot.”
Edited by Yoshita Rao
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