Hyderabad: The struggle of farmers across the country in raising crops, even on fertile lands, is known to many. But here is one man who has turned not one, but 17 acres of sheer waste land into a literal gold mine, with cash crops and fruits being grown in a major portion of his land and lush green grass for his cattle in the remaining part.
It was in 1990 that Nagarathnam Naidu bought the land in Taramatipet village, around 25 km from Hyderabad, and did an experiment to see whether the barren land, then filled with rocks and a few trees, could be converted into a profitable farmland. Over the years, 11 acres is being used to grow crops and six acres for fodder. Naidu says he implemented a mixed farming system in the 11 acres, and was one among the few to adopt the method at that time.
The 65-year-old initially began cultivating crops in one acre using the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), a farming technique aimed at increasing rice yield using less water and seed. As part of this, he cultivated paddy using two kg seed and 50 per cent water.
“Using SRI method, I could get a yield of 92 bags of paddy in one acre, which is a record of sorts. Nothing is impossible in farming, all we need is land and proper understanding of methods required to grow productive crops and plants,” he says.
On 11 acres, Naidu grows paddy, wheat, millets, turmeric, spices, groundnut and also has coffee plants, medicinal plants, coconut trees and even trees yielding dry fruits!
“It was not an easy task to turn the barren land into a fertile farm. I had to used earthmovers to dig and remove rocks in 500 lorry loads,” he recalls.
Born in Chittoor of Andhra Pradesh, Naidu moved to Dilsukhnagar in 1989 and began farming with the help of his wife.
Naidu’s farm is popular with many scientists from India and abroad who come to his field to learn his methods in farming. Every year, he educates thousands of students on the importance of farming. “Students should know from where we are getting food. These days, children think that they are getting rice from the supermarket,” he said.
A recipient of 356 awards and several cash prizes from institutes such as the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-arid Tropics, World Wildlife Fund and Association of Land Reforms and Development, Dhaka, there is also a lesson in the Class 9 science syllabus on Naidu and his farming methods.
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