Amar Singh’s story will rebuild your faith in the cliché that ‘all’s well that ends well’.
He lost his father at an early age and became an auto-rickshaw driver to take care of his family. But his life took a turn and he now earns in lakhs, giving his family a life they’d only dreamed of.
Amar’s father, Vrindavan Singh had 50 acres of land in Saman village of Bharatpur district of Rajasthan. However, as he slowly sold off parts of it, he was left with just 7.5 acres at the end. He and his wife Somwati Devi didn’t want their two sons and four daughters to stay away from them and hence Amar could not study after class 11, the highest class in his village school.
By this time unfortunately, his father had cataract in his eyes and lost his vision. Young Amar had to take up farming to support his family. Amar carried on the traditional farming of mustard, wheat and chickpeas with the guidance of his father. However, he was left helpless after his father’s death in 1984.
For many years he kept farming but couldn’t do well. So, in 1993 he decided to become an auto-rickshaw driver. He would ferry people from Saman to Kumher and back.
“Back then there were only tangas to ferry people from my village to Kumher. Whenever I used to visit Bharatpur, I saw many autos running there and I got the idea of getting an auto in my village too. And it worked really well,” says Amar.
In few years Amar was able to buy a second-hand jeep and used it to ferry even more people. While business was good, it was only enough for the family of seven to have a good life, and Amar couldn’t save much. To add to it, he had to sell his jeep for his sisters’ marriage in 1997.
However, just before he sold his jeep, he found a piece of paper inside it, which was about the health benefits of Indian Gooseberry (Amla). The piece of paper said that Amla is called ‘Amrit Fal’ because of its health benefits. The plant’s life is long and one fruit contains vitamin-C equivalent to 20 oranges. Amar read that very carefully.
There was only one option left after he sold his jeep and that was farming. Amar decided to take a chance and plant gooseberry.
“If something gets into my mind, I have to do it. I kept thinking of this one piece of paper about Amla that I read in my jeep and finally decided to plant gooseberry in my farm this time,” says Amar.
Amar had planted some plum trees in 1600 sq ft of his farm some five years ago, which were now giving fruit. Once the horticulture supervisor of his district came to visit his farm and suggested that he plant more of these trees. However, Amar told him about his plans of planting gooseberry this time. The supervisor was surprised to know this as there was no farmer in that area who had ever done gooseberry farming. But as Amar insisted, he helped him to get the saplings from Pratapgarh.
Amar got 60 saplings for Rs.18.50 each and planted them in his farm. And after some time he planted 60 more. It was a long process until the plants were raised and had fruits on them. Meanwhile, Amar kept patient and continued growing traditional crops.
Finally after 4-5 years, when the fruits of patience were harvested, Amar encountered another hurdle. No one was ready to buy the Amlas. He would go to the mandi and come back without selling anything. He then went to factories, but the factory owners told him that those were not high quality amlas and hence would pay him very less.
Amar was almost disheartened, but then he met people from Lupin Human Welfare Research & Foundation (LHWRF), a local NGO that trained village women to make murabba in 2007. The NGO taught Amar to make murabba as well as helped him with some loan to start his own processing unit.
Once the murabba was made, Amar’s younger brother would carry it in containers to sell in nearby villages. He would ask people to taste it and buy only if they liked it.
“The first year was really tough, my brother worked really hard. We would give away the murabba on credit mostly as it would have spoiled if we kept waiting for the right price and immediate cash. But to our fortune, all the villagers gave the money once they liked the murabba,” says Amar, sounding relieved.
The second year too Amar retained all his customers and the murabba was completely sold out. The confident Singh family then started making more of it and in 2009 Amar went again to the market, to sell his murabba this time.
This time, shopkeepers had already heard about his product and bought it from him at a good price.
Amar then set up ‘Amar Self Help Group’, which also employed women from his village. Initially they worked in a makeshift room made of polythene, but after a year Amar could build a proper room for the production process.
Amar Singh’s farm now has about 100 amla trees spread across 2.5 acres. Each tree bears 200-225 kg of fruit on an average every year. However, in 2015-16, his farm saw a bumper production of about 400 quintals of amla.
The process of making and selling murabba starts from December and lasts until April. The shopkeepers and factory owners now come to Amar to buy his murabba and he also delivers tins of murabba to nearby cities and villages like Kumher, Bharatpur, Tonk, Deeg, Mandawar Mahwa, Surooth and Hindaun.
The murabba is now famous by the name of ‘Amrita Murabba’, which gets him a turnover of Rs. 27 lakh to Rs. 28 lakh per annum.
Amar also continues to grow plum, brinjal, chilli, tomato, cauliflower, cabbage, potato, mustard and wheat. He has also built a farm pond, installed solar panels, drip-irrigated the land and installed a biogas plant in his farm. He happily trains farmers who come to ask him the art of Amla farming and processing. The horticulture department also invites him to give training sessions to the farmers. Amar believes that hard work and dedication can help anyone to achieve their dreams.
“Not everyone can get higher education and do a job. But if you work hard you can be your own boss and what’s better than that?” he asks.
Though it took him 20 years to harvest the fruit of his patience, this 58-year-old farmer is happy that he is growing and helping others to get healthy with the ‘Amrit fal’ finally!
Amar is looking for like minded people to join in his venture. You can click here to contact Amar singh.