Sweet scent of success

Agriculture

Sweet scent of success

Success Story: Kishen Lal Sharma’s farm at Hirebaganala in Koppal. Photos by Vasanth Malavi

Growing sandalwood in the arid region of Koppal is a difficult proposition. But, this farmer from Hirebaganala in Koppal has proved the opposite. Kishen Lal Sharma came to the state from Rajasthan in search of a job nearly 30 years ago.

He worked at a cement pipe factory in Koppal as a manager. It was at this point that he came in contact with farmers in the region. What started off as buying an acre of land here and there, culminated in Kishen Lal becoming the proud owner of 60 acres of land.
He started growing groundnut, maize and other grains on his land. “But, that did not fetch him profits. He borrowed Rs 10 lakh from a bank, and took to pomegranate cultivation. Not that it added to his profits either. Then, it was the turn of grapes, which too did not fetch him too many gains. He even had to sell off 40 acres of land to mitigate losses.

Then, upon advice of managers on his farm, he decided that mere agriculture was not sustainable, and decided to take up some business. He set up a stone crushing unit. Then , with the remaining 20 acres of land, he continued with his farming experiments. He planted teak saplings, and other timber on that land. It was then that a farmer suggested to him to take up sandal cultivation. Kishen Lal started planting sandal saplings on his farm. The sandal saplings that he planted three years ago have now grown at least 10 feet tall, says Kishen Lal, showing us his farm with pride.

Support of other trees
To plant sandalwood, it is important that there is already another strong tree. Sandal depends on other trees such as mango, gooseberry, or eucalyptus to draw its strength initially. Kishen Lal had already planted teak, which came in handy.  He provides organic manure for his sandalwood farm. He also has as many as 40 cattle in his farm, which help him procure organic manure. Among his other plans include installation of a drip irrigation unit, which will reduce dependence on labour.  

Target of 10,000 saplings
Kishen Lal Sharma has set a target of growing as many as 10,000 sandalwood trees, and create a record of sorts. He had procured 10,000 saplings from sources such as the Aranya Bhavan in Bangalore, and a farmer who offered the same in Shimoga district’s Nedali. But, as many as 4,000 saplings failed to grow, he points out. Which explains the resolve to grow 10,000 sandalwood trees at some point. Isn’t he scared of thefts? we ask.

That problem arises only after the saplings grow, and become big trees, which takes at least 15 years, the Koppal farmer explains. Right now, his biggest fear is the pollutants from the factories in the region.  Also, the farm has rainwater harvesting facilities. There have been laurels too, for his effort. He has won the Basava Jyothi award for the year 2009-10 for his efforts in rainwater harvesting.

Kishen Lal Sharma’s biggest dream is to set an example to the rest of the state, and encourage farmers to convert the dry, arid region of Koppal into a green haven.
He may be contacted on 9448450401 or 08539-220401.

(Translated by Savitha Karthik)

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