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‘My Dad’s a Farmer & This Was a Dream’: Engineer Grows Rare ‘Yellow Dates’, Reaps Big Profits

Nagendra Naidu Dharmavarapu from Andhra Pradesh left his high-paying job and founded Farmties India Private Limited. He used his ancestral family land to cultivate Yellow Dates which is now earning him profits in lakhs. Here's all about this rare superfood.

‘My Dad’s a Farmer & This Was a Dream’: Engineer Grows Rare ‘Yellow Dates’, Reaps Big Profits

While most of the youth in the country are heading towards corporate jobs, only a few turn towards farming. Affected by various factors, especially high risk and low profitability, no farmer would want his son to become a farmer.

“I know that there is a certain perspective towards taking up farming. But I was very sure from the beginning of my career that I would end up in the agriculture industry,” says engineer-turned-agriprenuer, Nagendra Naidu Dharmavarapu, the founder of Farmties India Private Limited.

According to Nagendra, it is important to find one’s niche in farming to earn profits. He found his niche in Yellow Dates, a super food, which is earning him Rs 3.5 lakhs per acre.

Intrigued by the product and how he found his market, The Better India had a conversation with Nagendra where he recalls his initial days of brainstorming to make profits.

Back to his roots

Born into a family of farmers, Nagendra grew up in close proximity to the issues farmers faced on a daily basis.

“I was intimately familiar with these challenges and had grown up pondering potential solutions. In my mind, it was clear that I wanted to be an agripreneur,” he adds.

Even while Nagendra was in an engineering college, he would frequently return home and spend time on the farm.

“I had a strong affinity for the farms and was very determined that one day I would also transition into the agriculture space,” he says.

Nagendra wanted to start growing a fruit that was region-specific and rarely grown in the country.
Nagendra wanted to start growing a fruit that was region-specific and rarely grown in the country.

After completing his degree he pursued an MBA and started working in a startup. “I later moved on to companies like Apple, Tracxn, and I-PAC, understanding how quality control and supply chain works,” he says.

He even acquired a failing company and turned it around into a profit-making one in 2018. “However, I was always thinking of how I could enter the agri space. I needed a solid plan — a good and niche product, the right labour and a strong supply chain,” he says.

While he was enjoying his work, his true passion lay in farming. “It was a risk that I was taking as my jobs were very high paying. Leaving all that and moving into a familiar yet unknown space was a leap of faith for me,” he says.

By late 2018, Nagendra was already looking for a potential product that he could grow. “I did not have to look anywhere for farms as my family owned lands near Anantapur which is also in proximity to Bengaluru,” he says. “The only issue was water scarcity.”

This issue too was solved when a known motor company factory opened just a few kilometres away. “This brought water to the area and also became a tipping point for me. I was now sure that I wanted to utilise this piece of land,” he says.

Finding a market for yellow dates

Before moving into agriculture, Nagendra did a lot of groundwork visiting various villages.

“There were a lot of fruits such as papaya, coconut, and mangoes that would grow well in the climatic conditions but I did not want to enter that space. I was aware that the government gives a lot of subsidies to farmers to grow these. This makes it accessible to everyone who wants to get into the industry,” he says.

Nagendra quit his career in IT to follow his dream of becoming a agripreneur.
Nagendra quit his career in IT to follow his dream of becoming an agripreneur.

Nagendra was looking for a crop that was niche and with fewer players in the market. “I wanted a crop that requires at least 5 to 6 lakh rupees as investment per acre. This would eliminate the competition. Also, I wanted something that was very region-specific.” he says.

He narrowed his search down to avocados, dragon fruit or dates.

“Out of these, I realised that climatically fresh yellow dates would be new in India but would also grow very well. Dried dates are quite common but fresh dates are relatively unknown but extremely nutritious,” he says.

Since Nagendra was not sure how this variety of dates would grow in the climatic conditions, he started with just 20 acres.

“I had grown up seeing wild dates growing in the region but not yellow dates. While it could have been a huge miss, thankfully it wasn’t, and the climate suits perfectly to grow the plant,” he says.

“I had to import the Yellow Dates seeds from abroad as these are not available in India,” he says. However, one bite of the fruit was all it took to realise its immense consumer appeal and market potential in the country.

“The taste was addicting and I knew once the consumers find out about the fruit, it is going to be a success. I reached out to my friends from college and we raised some funds. In 2021, I had a great yield and we were selling in and around Anantpur,” he says.

Nagendra now sells Yellow Dates on platforms such as Big Basket, Zepto etc.
Nagendra now sells Yellow Dates on platforms such as Big Basket, Zepto etc.

With time he started to reach out to bigger players like stores selling organic foods, Swiggy, Big Basket, Zepto, Country Delight etc. “We also started to reach out to corporate offices of these marketplaces. The CEOs would taste it and fall in love with the fruit. This is how we found a market for it,” he says.

What started with just 20 acres of farming land is now an empire of more than 1,400 acres of cultivation.

“The profit margin is 37 percent and we make nearly Rs 3.5 lakhs per acre so far,” he says.

“Our main focus is maintaining the quality of the dates. We segregate them according to the quality and send the best ones out. I am fully aware that it is the quality and availability of the fruit that has created a good market for us, and I want to give my best to retain it,” he adds.

If you wish to try this superfood, you can reach out to Nagendra at 91642 96999.

(Edited by Padmashree Pande; All Picture Credits: Nagendra)

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