It was a very common story but the ending was unusual.
Once upon a time in the neighbourhood of Pune, there was a farmer’s son. The farmer was in debt like most farmers in India. He had already sold ten acres of his land to settle a loan he had taken ten years ago. The loan amount had become ten times the original loan. Till here, it was the most common story abound. It all changed when Dyaneswar Bodke, the indebted farmer’s son, enrolled for a course in the Horticulture Training Centre, Talegaon.
In 1999, he set up Abhinav Farmer’s Club (AFC) in order to pass on his new found wisdom on poly house farming and irrigation of exotic flowers and vegetables to all those who were interested to learn. He had 17 members then and within two years, all were able to repay their debts.
Egged by the success story, The National Agricultural Bank for Rural Development (NABARD) stepped in. So did Canara Bank. Soon the Club grew to enroll 850 farmers in Maharashtra cultivating about 143 hectares of land. Today, it has 4,600 members belonging to the states of Maharashtra, MP, Gujarat and UP.
The Club’s model for success was that it completely eliminated the middle men. They cultivate organic vegetables and fruits in poly houses and sell them directly to the buyers.
It has generated employment for close to 730 men and women, out of which 445 women work under self-help groups. It is assisting over 150 households in the city of Pune to grow their own vegetables on patches in balconies and terraces of flats and in pots.
Now isn’t this what agriculture innovation is all about; we can bring about a revolution – one requires the motivation and some Govt support. This is probably where the Govt needs to concentrate – innovation through poly houses.