My “success story” (apparently) generated a lot of interest. There was a huge response and the phone wouldn’t stop ringing.
My “success story” (apparently) generated a lot of interest. There was a huge response and the phone wouldn’t stop ringing. People rang up to shower praise, wanted to know my secret, saw me as an idol and spoke on until satisfied. We are very good up until this point. But what came next was major disappointment. Almost all of them only wanted to know how to grow and market aloe vera. So why take up the trouble of growing from the earth to just end up photocopying someone else’s technique
One of India’s biggest problems is what we call in Hindi, Bhedchaal. There is no English equivalent to the word. I guess it’s something we have exclusive rights of. Even in farming, a small thought outside the box can grow into a big idea. If every farmer ends up copying a neighbour, you can kiss the next generation, goodbye.
Now, the big problem is availability of land. India is fast losing land that’s fit for agriculture, trust me. For a one-time income, a farmer today is met with several reasons to sell off a continuos source of income — there is no logic. The government must immediately tally out a balance between lands being given up and what’s left for growing food. Now, with the problems over, I present a few solutions.
I started with getting the soil and water tested by the local agricultural department. They are the two most important factors that will determine your crop — the water and the soil. If the water’s hard, RO softeners — easily available on the market — can be fitted to pipes. After all the green signals, comes the next big decision. ‘Should I go organic ’ That’s a big yes!
Organic farming keeps things simple and there will never be a trace of synthetic materials in your farm. Just plain cowdung, some cow urine and some water can work wonders, you’ll see.
And then comes the trade part that has a one-word solution — the Internet. There are several web portals that connect buyers with sellers. Indiamart is a personal favorite. It gives you a pretty good idea about what kind of demand is available for your product, which is an important parametre. Also remember to attend as many trade fairs as your can. Using traders contractors and middlemen is not advisable unless you’re okay with extremely reduced profit margins. And as far as the first steps are concerned, Wikipedia is a good early tool because it provides good links to external sources. These online trading sites also allow farmers like us to bypass traders and keep a full percentage due to direct sales. List out prospective buyers, use your phone, call them, don’t sound desperate (I know, it’s hard) and work towards the initial order. Once you land that, it’s all about maintaining quality and supply. The only disadvantage to ‘online farming lessons’ is you have to weed out the hoaxes — and enough practice should give you that ability.
In conclusion then, I would like to urge my fellow youth to stop chasing pokemons. Take a few risks with the soil here because the country, in a few years, will really need people like us.
The writer is an aloe vera farmer based out of Jaisalmer. His farm generates an income of Rs 2 crore each year.