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Vegetables through WhatsApp

Shailaja Bellankimath, Feb 2, 2016,: 0:29 IST
Santhosh and Abhijit sell vegetables in Gokak town twice a week.
While WhatsApp is used by many people for exchanging messages, videos and photographs, two young farmers in Belagavi district have found a novel purpose for it — marketing their produce.

Organic farmers Santhosh Kittur from Kadabi village and Abhijit Kamath from Murgod village have created a WhatsApp group to sell their produce. Santhosh, an electronics diploma holder, took to farming in his seven-acre farm six years ago.

Abhijit, an undergraduate, has been cultivating diverse crops in his 12 acres farm for the last 14 years. The objective of making agriculture sustainable brought them together and they decided to grow short-term crops along with main crops and sell them directly. They decided to grow vegetables in their banana plot (about two acres each) individually.

Thus, between two rows of banana, three rows of veggies like ridge gourd, bitter gourd, cucumber, cluster beans, beans, cabbage, tomato, green chillies, capsicum, onions and garlic took form. What more, they also started growing greens on bunds.

Each grew different varieties to ensure a good range of produce. The set up is such that they get yield twice every week. Crop rotation and organic inputs maintain soil and crop health. Once they had sufficient produce for sale, they created a WhatsApp group called ‘chemical-free produce’ for the residents of Gokak town in August 2015. Now, there are around 80 members in the group. The two farmers sell their produce twice every week (Thursday and Sunday).

On the previous day, they put up information about available produce in the group. If members mention what they want and the quantity, they pack it separately and if required, provide home delivery. Members can even head to the selling place and pick up their choice. “First preference is given to the members of the group. The system has worked well for us, even financially,” exclaims Santhosh. “I feel proud and satisfied that we have the opportunity to provide people with fresh and safe produce. In the current scenario, marketing our produce is equally important as growing it,” says Abhijit.

They give regular updates on farm activities with appropriate photographs to group members. They also invite interested consumers to their farms. They regularly get their feedback about the quality of the produce. “Chemical-free produce, which is in good demand in recent times, is good for both growers and consumers,” says Abhijit. Recognising their efforts, University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad has honoured them with ‘Outstanding Young Farmer’ award.

“It is very hard to find chemical-free vegetables. We had stopped using cabbage, cauliflower and brinjal after learning about their high chemical content. When these farmers supply fresh and safe vegetables right at our doorsteps, we should definitely encourage them. It’s come to such a point where we eagerly wait for their produce,” explains homemaker Shraddha Bagi. For details, contact the two farmers on 9901563210, 9916274492.

(Translated by A Varsha Rao)

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