Smart and sustainable

Smart and sustainable

innovative: (Closckwise from above) Ajjappa sells his farm produce at the local Sunday market; Ajjappa explains about the mixed farming practices; harvesting. photos by author

There is no doubt that technology has become an inevitable part of our lives. And many are using it productively. Consider the case of Ajjappa Hanumanthappa Kulagod, a young farmer in Sunnal village of Ramadurga taluk in Belagavi district. He has found an effective way of using technology to sell his produce. 

Ajjappa, who got trained in ITI, decided to stay back in his village, instead of looking for jobs in the cities. In 2002, he opened an electrical shop and took up repair work of home appliances.

New horizon

Gradually, he developed an interest in agriculture and in 2005, he took up farming. He researched non-chemical ways of farming and began cultivation of vegetables and greens along with the main crops, sugarcane, banana and turmeric. The family now grows over 30 types of vegetables and greens, which include onion, green chillies, gourds, tomatoes, spinach, fenugreek and Amaranthus. The family’s landholding is 6.5 acres.

His brother, Bheemappa supported his efforts and both of them learned the basics of organic farming through interactions with farmers, agricultural scientists, reading books and visiting farms.

His mother, Parvatavva, who earlier used to sell greens door to door, knows the intricacies of marketing vegetables and has guided Ajjappa very well in his endeavour. 

“Our land is located on the banks of a stream. Until recently, there was sufficient water to grow water-intensive crops like sugarcane. Of late, there is water scarcity and short-term crops help us sail through,” says Ajjappa.

They grow vegetables and greens, as intercrops. The family believes that integrated farming is a key to sustenance. And they grow crops in such a way that they get a regular income.

“Every farmer should grow at least 10 types of crops. This helps in developing a stable market and brings a regular income,” says Parvatavva. 

They harvest greens 25 to 40 days after sowing, vegetables start yielding soon.
Biowaste and other organic inputs are used to enhance soil fertility. Soon after harvest, the land is prepared for another crop. 

The pattern of the crops ensures that each variety gets necessary sunlight and water. And in each variety of vegetable, there are different types. For instance, they grow seven types of brinjals and four types of bitter gourd on the farm. 

The seeds for these crops are sourced locally. This results in good quality vegetables. The family firmly believes that apart from profits, one should also consider additional benefits such as contentedness and healthy life.

For the past eight years, Ajjappa has been marketing vegetables through WhatsApp. A day before the weekly market, he sends out a message to regular consumers about the availability of the vegetables, in terms of variety and quantity. They place the orders on WhatsApp and collect the vegetables from the market the next day.  The number of consumers has gradually increased and they are happy with the steady supply of vegetables. “We get a variety of vegetables and the quality of the produce is good,” says a regular customer.

Many admit that they are so used to organic vegetables that they would not mind slight variations in the supply. Consumers also appreciate the fact that the prices remain constant irrespective of market rates. Ajjappa sells one kg of vegetables at a price of Rs 40. Around 20 families buy vegetables from him regularly.  Complementary to his farming activities, Ajjappa, with other young, motivated farmers including Mallikarjuna Mathapati, Santhosh Kittur and Abhijit Kamat, has formed a network of farmers in Belagavi district. 

Over 60 farmers in the age group of 25 to 45 years gather in a farm on the last Sunday of every month to share cultivation methods and marketing experiences and innovations. Many farmers are following sustainable farming methods after participating in the team’s activities.

“This monthly gathering helps us in clearing doubts and getting useful
information. It keeps us motivated at a time when farming is not seen as a preferred occupation. We as farmers are proud to be a part of this effort,” says Mallikarjuna.  

For further information, contact Ajjappa on 9008977319.